Somalia: Pirates free two tankers after alleged ransom payment

BOSSASO, Somalia Mar 11 2013 (Garowe Online) – Somali pirates released two tankers that they were holding at a pirate enclave in Bari region, freeing almost 50 hostages, after unconfirmed reports say a ransom was paid, Garowe Online reports.

The MV Royal Grace a chemical tanker and the MT Smyrni an oil tanker captured in 2012, and the 48 hostages released were released on Friday.

There were unconfirmed reports that a ransom of more than 12 million dollars was paid to the Smyrni which was being held in a remote enclave in Bari region. Sources told GO that the Royal Grace was abandoned after pirates used it as a motherboard to hunt for other ships.

The two ships were allegedly being held by Isse Yuluh – a pirate linchpin who allegedly is responsible for the killings of a Danish family – and his pirate team. He is wanted by Puntland authorities and is on the run.

The sources told GO that the enclave provided the pirates with a strategic location to ward off any attack conducted from land.

EU NAVFOR naval ships tugged the merchant tankers out of Somali waters and will take the hostages to Oman. Indian newspapers reported that the 28 Indian hostages aboard the two tankers are safe and will be arriving home shortly.

Last December, the Puntland Maritime Police Force carried out an operation that rescued 22 hostages on board the MV Iceberg 1 after 3 years in captivity.



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