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Pirates release Norwegian vessel

Pirates release Norwegian vessel
Somali pirates released the Norwegian-owned MT Bow Asir tanker after receiving a ransom payment from owners of the vessel.

Somali pirates released the Norwegian-owned MT Bow Asir tanker after receiving a ransom payment from owners of the vessel.

Somali pirates released the Norwegian-owned MT Bow Asir tanker after receiving a ransom payment from owners of the vessel captured at the end of last month, pirate sources said.

The 23-000-tonne chemical tanker's operator, Salhus Shipping AS, confirmed that the vessel was freed and the 27-member crew was unharmed but declined to say if it paid any ransom or give details about any negotiations with the pirates.

"The pirates on board the Norwegian ship took the ransom and now they are all in Haradheere with me," one pirate told by telephone. Sources put the payment at around $2.4 million.

The ship and its crew consisting of a Norwegian captain, 19 Filipinos, five Poles, one Russian and one Lithuanian have been held since they were seized by pirates on March 26 about 250 miles east of the Somali coast.

"All crew are unharmed and we wish to thank them for their handling of this difficult situation," Salhus Shipping AS said in a statement. "The ship is still sailing in dangerous waters."

"Our absolute priority during negotiations with the pirates has been the crew, charterer, cargo and the ship," said the company, based in Haugesund, Norway.

The tanker was carrying a cargo of caustic soda and was headed for the Kenyan port of Mombasa from the Gulf when it was commandeered.

Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa, making a key shipping route from Europe to Asia treacherous and forcing many shipping companies to send cargo around South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal.

Last year saw an unprecedented number of hijackings off Somalia -- 42 in total.

www.TurkishMaritime.com.tr

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