December 9, 2010 / 6:10 AM / 8 years ago

Somali pirates free Saudi cargo vessel

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali pirates have freed a Saudi-owned tanker Al Nisr al Saudi after receiving an unknown sum in ransom for the ship seized in March, a maritime official said on Wednesday.

The 5,136-deadweightonne tanker had been on its way from Japan to Jeddah with one Greek and 13 Sri Lankan crew members.

“The ship was freed on Tuesday after ransom was paid. The crew is safe, but it needs supplies,” Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme told Reuters.

“It is not known how much the ransom was,” he said.

The Al Nisr al Saudi, is much smaller than the Saudi-owned colossus, The Sirius Star, that pirates captured in 2008, in a hijacking that brought Somali piracy to the world’s attention.

That tanker, measuring a third of a kilometre in length and carrying two million barrels of crude oil, was eventually released in January 2009 in exchange for a ransom estimated at around $8 million.

Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulkers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, despite the efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on such attacks.

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