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Pirates release ship after ransom paid

The MV Filitsa seen anchored off the coast of the town of Hobyo in northeastern Somalia on January 5, 2010.
The MV Filitsa seen anchored off the coast of the town of Hobyo in northeastern Somalia on January 5, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: EU anti-piracy task force NAVFOR confirms ransom had been paid
  • Pirates release Greek-owned bulk carrier MV Filitsa and 22 crew
  • Ship was seized off coast of Somalia in November 2009
  • Company that owned ship paid undisclosed ransom
RELATED TOPICS
  • Pirates
  • Somalia
  • Yachting

(CNN) -- Pirates have released a Greek-owned vessel and its crew of 22, months after hijacking it off Somalia, authorities said.

The MV Filitsa was released Monday after the shipping company that owned it paid a ransom, said Michael Battzoglou, a security officer and spokesman for the owner, Order Shipping Co. He did not say how much had been paid.

"All are well and safe," he added.

The Greek coast guard also said no one had been killed or injured on the vessel.

The European Union's anti-piracy task force NAVFOR issued a statement confirming that the ransom had been paid and the ship freed. It did not say how much money changed hands.

The Filitsa was en route to Mombasa, Kenya, where it and its crew were to be checked over, then will continue to Durban, South Africa, Battzoglou said. Its progress will be monitored by NAVFOR, the task force said

The bulk carrier was hijacked on November 11 off Somalia, near the islands of Seychelles, and was held at the pirate stronghold of Hobyo, on the Somali coast, the EU said.

It was en route from Shuaiba in Kuwait to Dubai when it was hijacked.

It flies a Marshall Island flag and is crewed by 19 Filipinos and three Greeks, the EU added.

The EU mission's main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid for the World Food Programme, to protect vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to deter and disrupt piracy.

The coast off lawless Somalia has become a hub for piracy in the past several years. Three ships have been attacked in the region this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau. There were dozens there last year, the agency said.

The pirates normally seek payment to release the ships.

 
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