Somali pirates release Greek-owned ship

Friday, December 11, 2009

Somali pirates released a Greek-owned cargo ship and its 24 Ukrainian crew members earlier today, after seven months in captivity.

The director of Greek shipping firm Alloceans Shipping, Spyros Minas, announced that pirates freed the Ariana, after the company paid a ransom. The released sailors were in good health, Minas noted.

Ukrainian president Victor Yushchenko also announced the crew's release from Kiev. "I congratulate the nation, and I congratulate the families on the successful operation to free our sailors," he commented.

The shipping company did not reveal the size of the ransom, but pirates told reporters the amount was more than US$2.5 million. The pirates claimed it was worth US$3 million.

The Ariana, reported to be carrying several thousand tons of soya, was en route from Brazil to the Middle East when it was seized by pirates.

Pirates have continued to hijack vessels off the eastern coast of Africa despite the presence of foreign naval patrols in the area. They are still believed to be holding around 260 crew members on nearly a dozen captured ships.