Somali pirates demand $25
million for Saudi tanker
Nov 20 (DPA) Somali pirates have demanded $25 million for
the release of a Saudi-owned supertanker seized at the weekend,
reports said Thursday.
Said, one of the pirates, gave a deadline of ten days for
the ransom to be paid, threatening "disastrous"
consequences otherwise, Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera
Sirius Star, which was hijacked some 830 km southeast of the
Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa, is anchored near the Somali
port of Harardhere, one of several pirate strongholds, while
ransom negotiations take place.
ship, which is owned by Vela International Marine Limited,
a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, was carrying a full load of
2 million barrels of oil when it was seized.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said that the owners
were in talks with the pirates and it was their decision to
pay the ransom or not.
25 crew members, from Britain, Croatia, the Philippines, Poland
and Saudi Arabia, were safe according to the owners, and there
were no plans by either the international forces or the Puntland
authorities to storm the ship.
off the Horn of Africa nation has surged in recent months,
and the chairman of the African Union said political infighting
is feeding the explosion.
Ping linked the piracy surge to a rift within the leadership
of Somalia's transitional federal government and called for
UN peacekeepers to be deployed in the nation as soon as possible.
is a clear indication of the further deterioration of the
situation with far reaching consequences for this country,
the region and the larger international community," the
AU said in a statement late Wednesday evening.
surge in piracy has coincided with a bloody insurgency in
Somalia, where ousted Islamists have been fighting to regain
control since early 2007.
shipping lines are now avoiding or considering avoiding the
Gulf of Aden - a busy shipping channel which forms part of
the route linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean
Sea through the Suez Canal.
the Sirius Star was taken, an Iranian cargo ship and a Thai
fishing boat have also been seized.
Sirius Star is the largest vessel taken by pirates and represents
their most daring raid yet, despite the presence of international
surge in piracy has prompted increased patrols by the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization, Russia, the US-led coalition
forces and France along the Somali coast.
increased naval presence has not deterred the pirates as they
pursue huge ransoms, but they have recently started to suffer
Indian navy said Wednesday that its INS Tabar stealth frigate,
which has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy
surveillance and patrol operations, destroyed a pirate mothership
- the first time a pirate mothership has been destroyed.
seizure of the Sirius Star took place outside the normal danger
areas in the Gulf of Aden, prompting anti-piracy officials
to warn that the pirates could be changing their tactics in
response to the increased warship presence.