Somali pirates demand $25M for Saudi oil tanker, Get 1.67 million

By | November 20, 2008

A hijacked Saudi super-tanker, carrying $US100 million ($153.95 million) worth of oil, has anchored off a notorious Somali pirate port as sea gangs struck again and seized a Hong Kong cargo ship.

The biggest act of piracy yet by the marauding Somali bandits has stunned the international community.

The Saudi Arabian foreign minister called piracy a growing “disease” and experts said few ships are now safe in the Indian Ocean. – smh

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Somali pirates who hijacked a Saudi oil super-tanker demanded a 25 million dollar ransom Thursday amid calls for tougher action to end threats to one of the world’s key maritime routes.

As global frustration built and a major shipping company ordered some of its vessels to avoid the Gulf of Aden, the pirates set a 10-day deadline for the ransom payment.

“We are demanding 25 million dollars (20 million euros) from the Saudi owners of the tanker. We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter,” a pirate who identified himself as Mohamed Said said from the ship.

“The Saudis have 10 days to comply, otherwise we will take action that could be disastrous,” Said told AFP from the ship now anchored at the Somali pirate lair of Harardhere, without elaborating.

Seized at the weekend in the Indian Ocean some 500 miles (800 kilometres) off the coast of Kenya, the Sirius Star tanker was loaded to capacity with two million barrels of oil and the biggest vessel to be seized by pirates so far.

After the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) described the situation as “out of control,” Arab Red Sea states meeting in Cairo Thursday pledged cooperation to end the threat – but offered few specifics.

Russia announced it would send more warships to combat piracy in the treacherous waters.

Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky, the top commander of the Russian navy, said: “After the Neustrashimy (Fearless), ships from other fleets of the Russian navy will head to the region,” referring to a frigate sent to the area in September. – canada

Update: Ransom paid, ships freed, “oil tanker pirate” tops list of best paid Somali careers.  That is, once they collect the $100 someone might be willing to pay them for the useless $1.67 million in marked bills.

Somali pirates released two hijacked ships after ransoms were paid, U.S. military officials said Thursday. The deals emerged as Britain warned that paying for the release of hostages risks encouraging more piracy.

NBC News reported that the Great Creation, a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker seized on Sept. 18, was released after a $1.67 million ransom was paid. The Genius, another Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker which was hijacked Sept. 26, was also returned in exchange for an unknown sum.

Earlier this week, pirates released the Stolt Valor, a Japanese chemical tanker after paying hijackers $2.5 million. – msnbc

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