[QODLink]
Africa
Somali pirates release Greek tanker
Crew safe and vessel freed after millions of dollars paid in ransom.
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2010 10:46 GMT

The EU, Nato and the US run naval patrols off the Somali coast to protect commercial shipping [EPA]

Somali pirates have released a Greek-flagged oil tanker after receiving millions of dollars in ransom.

Sources from among the pirates on Monday confirmed that the Maran Centaurus, one of the largest ships ever hijacked, had been freed.

The pirates agreed to release the vessel after an aircraft dropped at least five million dollars in ransom on the deck.

The ransom, one of the largest ever paid, appeared to have sparked a feud among the priates, delaying the release of the ship.

But Andrew Mwangura, from the East African seafarers assistance programme, said that the vessel had finally been freed on Monday.

"She's free. She's preparing to sail out," he said.

Ransom payment

Hassan, one of the pirates, told the Reuters news agency: "We have agreed to solve our disagreements and release the ship. It is free and sailing away now."

He said that its crew of 16 Filipinos, nine Greeks, two Ukrainians and a Romanian were all safe.

The ransom, delivered on Sunday, was believed to be between $5.5m and $7m.

A $3m ransom was paid for the release of another oil tanker, the Sirius Star, in January 2009. Similar ransoms have been paid subsequently for the release of merchant vessels.

The Maran Centaurus, carrying two million barrels of oil, was captured in November on its way from Kuwait to the US.

World powers, including the European Union, Nato and the United States are running naval patrols off the Somali coast in an effort to protect commercial shipping.

In response, the pirates have extended their reach, attacking ships up to 1,800km from Somalia, deep in the Indian Ocean.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
join our mailing list