Somali pirates said they had freed a Saudi-owned supertanker, whose capture nearly two months ago wreaked panic in international shipping and spurred the world into tougher anti-piracy action.
‘The 330-metre Sirius Star, owned by the shipping arm of oil giant Saudi Aramco, was seized far off the east African coast on November 15, in what was the pirates’ most daring attack and largest catch to date “All our people have now left the Sirius Star. The ship is free, the crew is free,” Mohamed Said, one of the leaders of the pirate group, told by telephone from the pirate lair of Harardhere. “There were last-minute problems but now everything has been finalised.” Sahafi Abdi Aden, speaking from the same town on Somalia’s Indian Ocean coast, also said the hijacking was over. The amount of the ransom paid for the ship’s release was not yet known. Pirates had told days after seizing the Sirius Star they wanted 25 million dollars (18 million euros) for its release but the latest reports indicated that the demand had been lowered to around 3.5 million. The Sirius Star was manufactured in South Korea and delivered last year. It is believed to be worth around 150 million dollars and its cargo was estimated at the time of the hijacking at 100 million dollars. The crew of the Sirius Star is made up of 25 people from Britain, Croatia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Poland, where the ship’s captain hails from.