Mogadishu: Somali pirates have freed a Greek-owned ship they seized in January, pirates and a maritime official said.
The pirates said they had released MV Eagle, a 52,163 deadweight tonne merchant vessel and its crew of 24 Filipinos seized in January, about 500 miles south west of Oman, while it was en route to India from Jordan.
"MV Eagle is free. All 24 Filipino crew members are safe and sound," Andrew Mwangura, maritime editor of the Somalia Report, said late on Saturday.
Pirates said they received a USD 6 million ransom for the ship`s release, but this could not be independently verified.
"We have received our USD 6 million .... The ship has just started to sail away from our zone with a warship," a pirate who only gave his as Kalif, said on Saturday by phone from the coastal town of El-Dhanane.
Two decades of conflict in Somalia have allowed piracy to flourish off the lawless nation`s shores. Pirates typically do not harm crews held hostage in the expectation of receiving a ransom for a vessel`s release.
Pirate gangs are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean owing to the vast distances involved.