Somali pirates release Turkish ship
Pirates have released the Turkey-flagged cargo ship MV Arean which was seized off the lawless Somali coast at the end of May but a German ship seized at the same time is still being held, elders who negotiated the deal said Wednesday.
"The vessel was released last night (Tuesday) around 8 pm local time (1700 GMT) - the pirates took delivery of a ransom of one million dollars before they released the ship," one of the mediators, who requested not to be named, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Somali authorities have in the past criticized the practice of paying ransoms, saying it only encourages more piracy.
The fate of the German MV Lehmann Timber, which was captured at the same time, still hangs in the balance.
The elder said that negotiations for the release of the ship were in deadlock and that some of the crew members - who are from Russia, Ukraine, Estonia and Myanmar - were ill.
A different group of pirates Tuesday demanded a ransom for the release of a German couple seized on Monday.
The couple were abducted as they sailed through the Gulf of Aden on a trip from Egypt to Thailand.
The district commissioner of the Las Korey area, Yusuf Jama Dabeed, said that troops from the semi-autonomous region of Puntland found the yacht abandoned on the shore, but that by that point the kidnappers had taken their captives into the mountains.
It is believed that the kidnapping was an opportunistic action that involved both pirates and local fishermen.
The German Foreign Office said that it was attempting to find out more about the kidnapping but had so far received no ransom demand.
Piracy is rife off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation. Cargo ships and luxury yachts have been targeted by heavily-armed pirates, who then hold the crew ransom.
The most high-profile case in recent months involved the capture of a luxury French yacht in April.
French troops rescued the hostages and captured six of the pirates, although another six are believed to have escaped.
The UN Security Council recently approved incursions into Somali waters to curb piracy, which the weak transitional government, currently engaged in countering a bloody insurgency, is powerless to prevent.
Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.