Somali pirates free Liberian flagged tanker:

January 24, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, January 24 – Somali pirates have released a Liberian-flagged tanker Biscaglia and its 28 crew after holding it for almost two months, a non-governmental organisation said on Friday.

The Biscaglia was hijacked on November 28 with a crew of 25 Indians and three Bangladeshis. It also carried three security guards — two Britons and one Irish national — who jumped over board when the pirates attacked.

"After having concluded the agreement yesterday (Thursday) at 3:00 pm local time (1200 GMT), Liberia-flagged MT Biscaglia is said to have sailed free," Ecoterra International said in its daily newsletter.

Sources involved in the negotiations also confirmed the release.

The tanker, which is transporting palm oil, is managed by a company based in Singapore and has a registered owner in the Marshall Islands.

No official confirmation from the owner was immediately available.

At least 15 foreign vessels and around 250 crew members are still being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

In 2008 alone, Somali pirates have carried out more than 130 attacks and successfully hijacked at least 49 ships, turning the busy maritime routes bottlenecking into the Gulf of Aden into the world’s most dangerous waters.

Among the ships still being held hostage is the Ukrainian vessel MV Faina with a cargo of battle tanks and ammunition. Food supplies are believed to be low and talks over a ransom in limbo.


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