Somali pirates release Chinese vessel

2011-06-08 16:44

Mogadishu - Somali pirates have freed a Chinese-owned cargo vessel they had held for nearly seven months off the lawless Horn of Africa country, pirates and a regional maritime expert said on Wednesday.

Owned and managed by Ningbo Hongyuan Ship Management Ltd, the Panama-flagged cargo carrier Yuan Xiang was seized on November 12 and its 29-strong Chinese crew taken hostage.

"We have freed the Chinese ship. We have received ... the agreed ransom this morning and the ship has already sailed away," a pirate who identified himself as Hussein told Reuters by telephone from the pirate haven of El-Dhanane.

Andrew Mwangura, a Kenya-based former maritime official and now maritime editor of the Somalia Report confirmed the release but said he did not know whether a ransom had been paid.

Armed pirate gangs plaguing the strategic waters off Somalia that link Europe and Asia typically demand multi-million dollar ransoms for a vessel's release.

A report by the US-based One Earth foundation published earlier this month said pirates' hostages were increasingly the victims of beatings, confinement and in some cases torture.

Read more on:    somalia  |  east africa  |  somali pirates
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