Somali pirates release Egyptian ship

CAIRO (AFP) — Somali pirates have released an Egyptian ship with 25 crew on board which was hijacked earlier this month off Somalia's Puntland region, the official MENA news agency reported on Saturday.

The pirates, who had demanded a ransom before releasing the hostages and ship, allowed the vessel to set sail late on Friday, MENA reported, adding that the ship is in international waters on its way back to Egypt.

The release came after weeks of negotiations between the pirates and Egyptian intelligence officials, according to MENA. No details were available on whether a ransom was paid.

The waters off Somalia are the most dangerous in the world for piracy.

On Thursday, Somali pirates seized a Ukrainian freighter with a crew of 21, including three Russians, that was carrying a shipment of battle tanks and grenade launchers destined for Kenya.

The Russian army responded by sending a frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) to the region.

Earlier in September pirates captured a French sailing boat with two French nationals on board and demanded a ransom for the hostages.

SOURCE: AFP, Saturday, September 27, 2008

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