Mozambique: Pirates Release Ship Hijacked in Mozambique Channel

Maputo — Somali pirates have released the Bangladeshi-flagged merchant vessel "Abdullah', hijacked over a month ago, long with its 23 member crew - but only after a ransom of five million US dollars was paid.

The European Union Naval Force (EU NavFor) in a statement on 15 April confirmed the release, adding its Operation Atalanta was the first actor to respond to the hijacking of the vessel on 12 March, when one Atalanta vessel started shadowing the vessel.

The "Abullah' was sailing from Maputo to the United Arab Emirates, with a cargo of coal.

The Reuters news agency quoted two pirates as saying the "Abdullah' was released on Sunday after the ransom had been paid.

The ship's owner, the KSRM Group, said the vessel and its crew were freed following negotiations. "We struck a deal with the pirates,' Mizanul Islam of SR Shipping, the group's maritime arm, told Agence France Presse (AFP).

"We cannot say more about the money,' he added, but said all the crew are safe and secure.

The ship has since resumed its journey to the UAE, escorted by two warships.

A Somali publication "Garowe Online' reported that at least eight pirates were apprehended on the East Coast of Puntland moments after the "Abdullah' was released.

"A high-ranking officer from Puntland Police Force informed Garowe Online that they have apprehended eight members of the pirate group holding the Bangladesh-flagged ship MV Abdullah. It has not been confirmed whether the ransom money paid to the pirates was recovered during the operation,' the publication reported.

Puntland is part of Somalia that declared itself an autonomous state in 1998. It says it wishes to be part of a federal Somalia, but does not recognise the current Somali government.

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