Source AP ©

Pirates ask for USD 20K to return merchant ship and crew in Somalia

Somali pirates are demanding US$20,000 (EUR15,000) for the return of an Indian-flagged merchant ship and its crew, officials said.

The pirates, armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, seized the MV Nimatullah and its 14-member crew off the coast of Mogadishu early Monday.

The pirates originally had demanded US$40,000 (EUR30,000), but scaled down their demand based on their valuation of the ship's cargo, said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program.

The British-based International Maritime Bureau warned Wednesday there had been a marked increase in pirate attacks in Somali waters.

"Vessels are advised to steer well clear of Somalian waters at all times and only approach once full clearance to enter the port has been received," the organization said in a statement posted on their web site.

The MV Nimatullah was carrying more than 800 tons (725.7 metric tons) of cargo, including cooking oil, second hand clothing and rice. It is being held at coastal town of Harardheere, a pirate stronghold 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital, Mwangura said.

Mwangura expressed concern over the crew, all of whom are south Asians, and cargo's intended recipients.

The ship's Dubai-based owner, Issa Bhata, could not be reached for comment.

Mwangura added that another ship, MV Nishan, was attacked close to Mogadishu seaport by pirates Tuesday, but managed to escape.

The 1,860-mile (2,993-kilometer) coast of Somalia, which has had no effective government since warlords ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other, has become one of the world's most dangerous areas for ships.

In February, Somali pirates seized a U.N.-chartered vessel that had delivered food aid to northeastern Somalia. The ship and its 12-member crew are still being held.

In 2005, two ships carrying U.N. World Food Program aid were overwhelmed by pirates. The number of overall reported at-sea hijackings that year was 35, compared with two in 2004, according to the International Maritime Bureau. In 2006 there were ten attacks while this year there have been four so far.

Comments
USA will seize Kuril Islands immediately if Russia delivers them to Japan
German experts name Russia's most dangerous weapon
Report about USSR's unique lunar mission declassified
Europeans say what puzzles them in Russia most
Russia's new torpedo carrying 100-megaton nuclear warhead nullifies USA's Prompt Global Strike
The Green Africa project
The Green Africa project
Can Russia perform under Soviet flag during 2018 Winter Olympics?
The Green Africa project
Russia's new torpedo carrying 100-megaton nuclear warhead nullifies USA's Prompt Global Strike
The Green Africa project
Russia's new torpedo carrying 100-megaton nuclear warhead nullifies USA's Prompt Global Strike
The Green Africa project
Report about USSR's unique lunar mission declassified
Keys to understanding the world from Feminism - Science and Feminism
Sheep disrupt the work of US missile defences in Romania
Sheep disrupt the work of US missile defences in Romania
Russia strongly opposed to reinstating death penalty
Russia's new torpedo carrying 100-megaton nuclear warhead nullifies USA's Prompt Global Strike
Can Russia perform under Soviet flag during 2018 Winter Olympics?
What lies beneath Iran protests