Somalia: Pirates want $15mln for seized ship, says Islamist leader

Mogadishu, 24 Nov. (AKI) - A Somali Islamist leader said the ransom for the hijacked supertanker Sirius Star has been reduced from 25 to 15 million dollars. "Middlemen have given a $15 million ransom figure for the Saudi ship. That is the issue now," said Abdurrahim Isse Adou, the spokesman of the Islamic Courts Union quoted by various media reports.

Saudi oil giant Aramco's subsidiary Vela International owns the hijacked supertanker Sirus Star, which has a 25-member crew on board from Poland, Britain, Croatia, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

The tanker is fully loaded with two million barrels of oil worth over 100 million dollars.

Last week, pirates warned that they have a machine that can detect false banknotes, said Bili Mahmoud Qabusad, spokesman for the Somali region of Puntland's president.

According to Qabusad, the pirates probably come from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and set sail ten days ago on their mission to hijack the Sirius Star.

A number of the pirates operating in the Gulf of Aden are belived to be former members of the Somali navy, reports have said.

More than 92 ships have been attacked his year, more than three times the number in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau. At least 14 of these vessels, carrying over 250 crew members, are still in the control of hijackers.

An estimated 25-30 million dollars has been paid in ransom to Somali pirates this year, according to a UN report released last Tuesday.


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