MOGADISHU — Somali pirates said they were air-dropped a ransom of 3.7 million dollars (2.7 million euros) Friday to release an Indonesian chemical tanker and its 24 crew members.

“The pirates already agreed to free the ship after receiving ransom money of 3.7 million US dollars, I think they will get off the ship some time this evening or tomorrow,” Abdi Yare, a pirate leader in the port of Harardhere, told AFP.

Hasan Abdulle, another pirate in Harardhere, also said the ransom had been paid for the Singapore-flagged MT Pramoni.

“Most of the pirates are already back on shore now because they received their ransom today, the ship is technically free,” he said.

A spokesman for the European Union anti-piracy naval mission confirmed that a ransom was paid early Friday.
“A ransom drop has been made,” said EU NAVFOR spokesman John Harbour, adding that it normally took up to 24 hours for pirates to release the ship and crew “after the money has been counted”.

Somali pirates seized the vessel and its 24 crew members in the Gulf of Aden on January 1.

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The ship was captured while en route to India, the first attack by Somali pirates this year.

Among the crew of the 20,000 deadweight-tonne Pramoni heading toward Kandla are 17 Indonesians, five Chinese nationals, a Nigerian and a Vietnamese.

Somali pirates, targeting one of the world’s busiest maritime trade routes, raked in an estimated 60 million dollars in ransoms last year.
Besides the MT Pramoni, they still hold at least nine vessels and more than 150 seafarers.

An armed Somali pirate keeps vigil along the coastline at Hobyo town (Photo By AFP)

Sources: AFP