Pirates free cargo ship: maritime source, EU

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Pirates released on Tuesday a British Virgin Islands cargo vessel and its crew, a maritime official and the EU naval force said two months after the vessel was seized off the Oman coast.

"The information we're getting is that the MV Talca has been released and that all the 25 crew are ok," Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, told AFP by telephone.

The 11,000-tonne Bermuda-flagged, British Virgin Islands-owned ship was seized off the coast of Oman on March 23 as it sailed from Egypt to Iran with 23 Sri Lankans, one Filipino and a Syrian on board.

"We are hearing that a 2.5 million dollar ransom was paid," Mwangura said, without elaborating.

The pirates struck after the cargo ship had passed through an international recommended transit corridor which is patrolled by warships and maritime patrol aircraft from the European Union naval force EU Navfor, NATO, Combined Maritime Forces and other navies.

The EU Navfor force, which also announced the ship's release, said in a statement that a ransom drop was made on Saturday but the pirates remained on board the ship and only left Tuesday morning, heading for the Somali coast.

© 2010 AFP

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