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Somali pirates free crew of Maltese-flagged ship

16 January 2012, 12:56

Mogadishu - Somali pirates have freed the 18-man crew of a Maltese-flagged chemical tanker after the payment of a $4 million ransom, the maritime editor of the Somalia Report said on Monday.

Andrew Mwangura, an authoritative source on piracy, said the crew - three Turks and 15 Georgians - sailed to the Kenyan port of Mombasa in a tugboat after their release last week, while the tanker, the MV Olib G, was abandoned off the Somali coast.

The Greek-owned and -operated chemical tanker was seized in the Gulf of Aden while on its last trip before the scrapyard, according to Mwangura, a former regional maritime official.

The seas off Somalia have been plagued by piracy in recent years as Somali gangs have exploited 20 years of lawlessness in their Horn of Africa country by seizing vessels and demanding huge ransoms for them and their crews.

Kenya's military says piracy has become less frequent since it sent forces into neighbouring Somalia last October to fight al Shabaab rebels and stationed its navy off its southern coast.

- Reuters

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