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Africa
Ransom paid to Somali pirates
Money dropped on Greek ship in bid to free captain and his Filipino crew.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2010 15:08 GMT
Pirates in Somalia pocketed an estimated $60 million in 2009 and currently hold five ships [AFP]

A ransom has been paid to Somali pirates in a bid to secure the release of a Greek-owned freighter and its crew of 19 being held off the Seychelles.

According to the Navfor, the EU's naval mission, on Saturday, "a ransom drop was successfully made for the release of the Greek owned Panama-flagged bulk carrier, Navios Apollon".

It was the second ransom drop to the pirates in two days, demonstrating the dilemma governments and companies are in over the need to recover their ships and crews and the fears of encouraging further piracy.

In both cases the amount of money handed over to the pirates was not given.

Almost immediately after the earlier ransom drop, a Singapore-flagged Indonesian chemical tanker and its 24-strong crew were released by the pirates, Commander John Harbour, a Navfor spokesman, told AFP.

The pirates disappeared back to the shore of impoverished Somalia.

Lucrative 'business'

Navios Apollon is the latest freighter to be involved in a ransom drop in the Indian Ocean, following its capture in late December while it was en route to Thailand.

The ship's captain is Greek and the crew is Filipino.

The EU statement said that "no requests for assistance have been made at this time" and Navfor was continuing to monitor the situation.

According to Harbour, it normally takes up to 24 hours for pirates to release the ship and crew "after the money has been counted".

Somali pirates, targeting one of the world's busiest maritime trade routes, raked in an estimated 60 million dollars in ransoms last year.

They currently hold five vessels and some 120 seafarers, according to Harbour.

The EU Navfor mission is tasked with escorting merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid and protecting vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

Source:
Agencies
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