Somali pirates agree deal for Ukrainian ship release

Pirates guarding an arms-laden Ukrainian ship said Sunday that it would be released within days, but the fate of a Saudi oil carrier was unclear hours from a 25-million-dollar ransom demand’s expiry.

Sugule Ali, spokesman for the pirates who hijacked the MV Faina in September with its cargo of battle tanks and weapons, said it was “a matter of technicality and time” before the vessel was freed.

AFP

A handout photo provided by the US Navy shows the Belize-flagged ... 
A handout photo provided by the US Navy shows the Belize-flagged Ukrainian cargo MV Faina off Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast. Pirates guarding the arms-laden Ukrainian ship said Sunday that it would be released within days, but the fate of a Saudi oil carrier was unclear hours from a 25-million-dollar ransom demand’s expiry.(AFP/HO/File)

“I can’t tell you what the ransom is, but what can I say is that agreement has finally been reached,” Ali told AFP from the ship.

“Within four days, we must leave and we are preparing for the safe landing of our members,” he said. “We have no doubt this problem will be resolved and I hope the owners will honour the last remaining points.”

The MV Faina was hijacked on September 25 on its way to Kenya, ferrying 33 Soviet-type battle tanks, anti-air systems, rocket launchers and ammunition. The ship has a crew of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian.

“Our members are very tired and the crew are also very tired. We all want this matter to be resolved.

“We were very lenient during the discussions because the community in the area was putting pressure on us to release the ship, especially the elders.” Ali explained.

The US military has overflown the hijacked vessel several times to take pictures of the crew lined up on the bridge and verify that all were in good health.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/200
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The Sirius Star anchored off the coast of Somalia on November ...
The Sirius Star anchored off the coast of Somalia on November 19. Somali pirates demanding $25 million for a Saudi super-tanker are hoping for a “favourable” reply as the deadline for paying the ransom loomed.(AFP/Ho)

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