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BREAKING NEWS: $2.5 Million Ransom: Hijacked Bermuda Ship Freed

After holding the ship hostage for almost 50 days, Somali pirates have released the Bermudian registered MV Talca this morning, and all crew is believed to be safe. The ransom payment has been reported to be $2.5 million.

The ship, containing 25 crew, was hijacked on March 23, 2010 off the coast of Africa.

Andrew Mwangura [Head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program] confirmed a ransom was paid, but he did not know how much. It has not yet been confirmed who paid the ransom, but we understand it is highly doubtful Bermuda paid any part. The shipping companies normally absorb the cost of ransom payments. The ransom was paid on May 8th, three days prior to the ships release.

The crew of 23 Sri Lankans, one Filipino and one Syrian are all believed to be safe.

[At this early stage of the news there is limited information available, and we will update this post as able with further developments.]

Update 9am: Reuters Canada just reported on the release, and quoted a Somali pirate as saying the ransom paid was $2.5 million. The news org did say “it was not immediately possible to verify the ransom claim.”

Update 10:05am: The ship is headed towards Oman, says the European Union Naval Force.

A montage of Somali pirates

A montage of Somali pirates

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Timeline of Hijack:

March 23: The Talca was hijacked while traveling from Egypt to Iran, approximately 120 nautical miles off the coast of Oman in the Gulf of Aden, which is reported to be one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.

March 24: MV Talca was in transit, reported to be shadowed at least part of the time by a US Warship

March 25: The European Union Naval Force confirmed that the MV Talca arrived off the Somali coast of Bargaal, with the African Press Agency reporting that Governor of Baargaal Ahmed Bile Mohamed said the MV Talca reached his city and people can see it from shore.

March 26: Sketchy reports that the MV Talca may be heading to Garacad, a pirate stronghold

March 28: The Director of the shipping company announced they intend to negotiate for the release of the hijacked MV Talca.

April 4: Reports say that the hostages spoke to their families via satellite phone, and are in good health.

April 10: Reports suggest a serious dispute amongst the pirates broke out over whether the MV Talca should stay in Baargaal or proceed to Garacad or Harardheere.

April 13: Following a decision by Somali officials to cut supplies to the ship, the Pirates say they will starve the crew and deny them water.

April 17: Reported date of a pirate shootout, which left one pirate dead

May 10/11: Ship and hostages released

Background Information

According to the Kenyan foreign minister, Somali pirates received over $150 million in ransom during 2008. Pirates normally demand the ransom money in US cash, and have had it dropped from helicopters or sent on small boats. In January 2009, $3 million cash was dropped from a helicopter onto the deck of MV Sirius Star to secure the release of ship and crew.

Somalia, who has battled problems with pirates for many years, is largely considered a ‘failed state’, lacking general infrastructure such as law enforcement, government, schools etc. The African nation with a population of over 9 million people has not had a functioning government for 19 years. One of the world’s poorest nations, 73% of the population live on a daily income below $2, according to the World Bank.

Pictured below is a map of the Gulf of Aden, where the ship was hijacked:

719px-Gulf_of_Aden_map

TWITTER@80MINASSASSIN STORY BY @BERNEWS.COM


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