Basseterre, Saint Kitts (MAY 29TH 2007)
A St. Kitts and Nevis flagged ship has been released by Somali pirates.
Reuters news agency reports a Kenyan maritime official as saying that “The Mariam Queen” and its 16 crew were released by the Somali pirates after receiving a US$100,000 ransom.
The Kenyan official said Tuesday another four ships were still held off Somalia’s coast where pirates frequently hijack vessels and sometimes claim to be coastguards protecting their waters against illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste.
“The Mariam Queen has been released and is headed towards Mogadishu. We hear the owners paid $100,000,’ Andrew Mwangura, Director of the Seafarers’ Assistance Programme in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, told Reuters.
“The pirates had demanded $150,000 but it fell to $100,000 after negotiations,” he said.
Mwangura said the ship would unload its cargo in Mogadishu, but gave no other details.
Another vessel attacked by pirates earlier this month – the MV Victoria – was expected to dock in Mombasa on Tuesday,
The World Food Programme had contracted that vessel to deliver aid supplies to Somalia.
Four other ships – an Indian dhow and three fishing vessels from Taiwan and Tanzania – were still being held, he said.