Somali pirates release 26 sailors

2013-03-12 16:26
MT Smyrni

MT Smyrni

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Manila - Somali pirates have released a Greek-owned oil tanker and its 26 sailors, including 14 Filipinos, who were seized in the Arabian Sea 10 months ago, the Philippine government said on Tuesday.

The Liberian-flagged MT Smyrni as well as its crew were released on Saturday, and are en route to Oman, the foreign affairs department said in a statement.

"All of the crew members are in good physical condition," the statement said.

The Smyrni was carrying 135 000 tons of crude oil when it was hijacked on 10 May last year. It had sailed from Turkey and was seized 300 nautical miles east of Oman as it headed towards Somalia.

No reason was given as to why the pirates released the vessel, owned by Athens-based Dynacom Tanker Management, and its crew.

Dynacom Tanker Management also released a short statement on its website confirming the release, without explaining the circumstances.

"We are very pleased to report that the Mt Smyrni has been released after ten months in the captivity of Somali pirates," the statement said.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the crew, their families, our employees and those agencies that have provided support through this long ordeal."

Pirates based in lawless Somalia have in recent years netted millions of dollars in ransom payments by carrying out high-profile sea hijackings, which have driven up the costs of shipping along vital seaways.

The number of Somali pirate attacks is currently at a three-year low, thanks to beefed up naval patrols and teams of armed security guards aboard ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

However, the International Maritime Bureau says Somalia's waters remain extremely dangerous.

The Philippine foreign affairs department said Somali pirates were still holding nine other Filipino sailors taken hostage from two other vessels.

Read more on:    international maritime bureau  |  somalia  |  philippines  |  pirates

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