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Friday, April 18 2014 @ 01:29 AM EDT

Somali pirates say to free Panama ship after ransom

Panama Flagged Vessels By Abdi Guled and Abdi Sheikh MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali pirates said they received a $3.1 million ransom on Tuesday for a Panama-flagged ship which they hijacked in October and planned to free in the coming hours. "Some of our friends have already disembarked and the rest will get off the ship soon," one of the pirates, Hassan, told Reuters by telephone from the coastal pirate base of Haradheere. "We hope it will peacefully sail away in the coming hours." The name of the vessel was not immediately clear, but a regional maritime source said it was believed to be the MV Al Khaliq, thought to be carrying 24 Indians and 2 Burmese crew. The source said negotiations for the release of the MV Al Khaliq had been going on for weeks. It was loaded with wheat grain when it was seized on October 22 west of the Seychelles. The number of piracy attacks worldwide leapt almost 40 percent last year, with gunmen from the failed Horn of Africa state accounting for more than half the 406 reported incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau. Typically, the heavily armed Somali pirates hold captured ships and their crews hostage until ransoms are paid.
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