Sunday, April 27, 2008

Playa de Bakio released after payment of $1.2 million ransom

Pirates take their loot and disappear.

Spain, of course, wouldn't confirm the ransom payment but claim that they have "taken steps so that similar situations don't happen again."

(Oh really? Not when you've just given the scurvy lot 1.2 million reasons to do it again!)

Somali pirates freed a Spanish fishing boat and its 26-member crew after a ransom of $1.2 million was paid, a Somali official said.

Suspected pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades had seized control of the tuna-fishing boat from Spain's Basque region last Sunday about 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, a region where piracy has escalated recently.

The pirates released the ship Saturday, authorities said.

The crew was freed after Spanish authorities paid the ransom, Abdi Khalif Ahmed, chairman of the Haradhere local port authority in central Somalia, said late Saturday.

"The ship is free and the pirates disappeared into their villages," he said.

Spanish officials did not confirm that a ransom was paid before Saturday's release, saying only that there had been negotiations.

In Madrid, Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said Saturday that the trawler, the 250-foot-long Playa de Bakio, was sailing home escorted by a Spanish frigate. She would not comment on any ransom.