alexa Somali pirates withdraw threat to blow up ship - Daily Nation

Somali pirates withdraw threat to blow up ship

Thursday October 16 2008

By DOMINIC WABALA AND AGENCIES

Pirates aboard the hijacked weapons carrying Ukrainian ship moored off the coast of Somalia have withdrawn their threat to blow up the ship if ransom is not paid.

The announcement comes as another group of hijackers to over control of a Panamian ship in the Gulf of Aden bringing the total number of hijacked ships to 30 this year.

The pirates through their spokesman, Sugule Ali, had on Friday given a 72-hour ultimatum for the ransom to be paid or they would have blown up the ship, its cargo and crew on by Tuesday morning.

However, Sugule Ali told Associated Press on Wednesday that the pirates who hijacked MV Faina carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other weapons had withdrawn the threat to blow up the ship and negotiations for the ransom were going on.

“ We have withdrawn it,” Ali said.

The negotiations with the ships owners, Tomex Inc of Odessa Ukraine were said to be going on well although no details were available.

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The pirates had initially demanded for US$ 35 million ransom but have continued to reduce the amount to US$ 20 million and recently US$ 8 million. Negotiations had been called off when the hijackers declined to be represented by Somali businessmen.

The withdrawal of the threat comes as the European Union, NATO and the United Nations condemned piracy activities within the Gulf of Aden.

EU ministers have already decided that British navy vice admiral Philip Jones will head the anti piracy operation scheduled for December.

The latest ship a Phillipine bulk carrier with 21 crew aboard was sailing from the Middle East to Asia through the Gulf of Aden when it was seized near the Somali coast.

The Panamanian flag flying ship is the 73 vessel to suffer attack in the East African waters since the beginning of the year with about 30 ship hijacked and some released after payment of ransom.

International Maritime Bureau official Noel Choong said that 11 vessels and 200 crew members are still being held by the pirates negotiating for ransom.