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Somali pirates demand $5 mln ransom for Ukrainian ship crew

01.11.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Somali pirates holding the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina say they will release the ship with its crew within two days if a ransom of at least $5 million is paid, a London-based Arab newspaper said on Saturday.

As-Shark al-Ausat quoted anonymous sources in Somalia as saying the pirates "demand that the ransom must be paid in the next two days," and that talks on the release of the hostages have entered their final stage.

The Faina, carrying at least 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry, was seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The pirates are also holding hostage 17 Ukrainian nationals, two Russians, and one Lithuanian.

The Russian captain of the Faina died of a heart attack after the vessel was seized. The pirates holding the ship earlier demanded an $8 million ransom, and threatened to kill the hostages if a military operation is launched against them.

Pirates are increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, which has no effective government and no navy to guard its coastline. Pirates have seized around 30 ships so far this year off the coast of the east African nation.

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