Blue Star Fetilizer Ship Released By Pirates

Somali pirates released an Egyptian cargo ship on Wednesday with its 28 crew whom they had seized off the Somali coast on New Year’s Day, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

The release of the vessel followed mediation efforts by Egyptian intelligence and foreign ministry officials, MENA said without making any mention of a ransom payment for the Blue Star.

Last month, the ship’s owner Abderrahman al-Awwa told AFP that he had done a deal with the pirates on how much would be paid.

“We have reached an agreement for a million dollar ransom,” he said.
The Egyptian foreign ministry said at the time of the hijacking that about 15 pirates, some of them heavily armed, attacked the vessel which was carrying a cargo of 6,000 tonnes of fertiliser.

The Egyptian-owned ship was flying the flag of the Caribbean island territory of St Kitts and Nevis when it was hijacked.

Last year alone, more than 100 attacks occurred in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia.

In September, another Egyptian-owned vessel was seized by pirates, who held the crew of 25 for almost a month before releasing them. Egypt said it paid no ransom for that ship.

The pirates have been undeterred by the presence of foreign naval patrols in the waters of Somlia which link the Mediterranean with the Indian Ocean and the oil-rich Gulf, and are one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.