March 2, 2011 / 11:52 AM / 8 years ago

Somali pirates free German-operated ship

BOSASSO, Somalia (Reuters) - Somali pirates have released the German-operated MV Ems River cargo ship and its crew after holding the vessel for more than two months, pirates and a regional maritime expert said.

The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged 5,200 dead weight tonne cargo ship was hijacked off Oman en route to the Suez Canal on December 27.

“We just got off the MV Ems River after getting a $3 million ransom. It has just sailed away peacefully,” a pirate who identified himself as Jama told Reuters by phone from Halcaanood in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

Kenya-based maritime expert Andrew Mwangura confirmed the release but could not verify the reports of a ransom.

Somali pirates preying on merchant ships and private yachts in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden are raking in tens of millions of dollars in ransoms each year, outfoxing a fleet of foreign warships patrolling the busy shipping lanes.

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