Somali pirates free Chinese ship

$4m ransom reportedly paid for release of Chinese coal vessel and 25 crew.

    The De Xin Hai was hijacked by pirates in October, northeast of the Seychelles [Reuters]

    The bulk carrier was captured in mid-October, northeast of the Seychelles as it was sailing from South Africa to India.

    It was carrying about 76,000 tonnes of coal.

    The De Xin Hai was the first Chinese vessel to be hijacked since China deployed a three-ship squadron to the Gulf of Aden last year, joining Britain, India, Iran, the US, France and other countries in anti-piracy patrols.

    Ransom dropped

    A purported pirate, who identified himself as Hassan, told the Reuters news agency on Sunday that the crew and the vessel would be released in the coming days after the ransom had been paid.

    In depth

      Special programme: Pirates' haven
      The pirate kings of Puntland
      Video: Lucrative raids lure Somali youth
      Video: Meet the pirates
      Q&A: Piracy in the Gulf of Aden

    "A helicopter dropped the ransom money on to the ship. We have received $4 million," he said.

    "We hope to disembark in a few hours.

    "The crew is safe and, although they will not have their freedom for a few more days, they are all happy now."

    Heavily armed gangs from Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars hijacking vessels in the Indian Ocean and the strategic Gulf of Aden.

    The hijacking has highlighted China's growing presence on global shipping
    lanes, and brought warnings that Beijing could use military force against the pirates.

    Pirate attacks in the area nearly doubled in 2009 over a year earlier, despite the deployment in December 2008 of the European Union Naval Force, the first international force specifically to counter Somali pirates.

    Somali pirates currently hold at least 10 vessels and more than 200 crew members for ransom.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.