Saturday, September 27, 2008

Somalia: Pirates seize chemical tanker.

$35 million ransom demanded for the Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina.

and want $35 million for the Ukrainian freighter.
(The one with the tanks, grenade launchers and ammo on it.)

Pirates have seized a Greek chemical tanker with 19 crew members off Somalia's coast, continuing an audacious string of hijackings near the African country, an international anti-piracy watchdog said on Saturday.

The tanker, carrying refined petroleum from Europe to the Middle East, was ambushed on Friday in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre based in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, a man claiming to be the spokesman of pirates holding a Ukrainian ship laden with tanks says they want $35 million for its release.

Warnings are issued to would-be rescuers, a ransom is demanded and then the ransom demand is denied. Confusion reigns. Worse yet, the ship is rumored to be steaming towards Mogadishu in the heart of the Islamist territory.

"We are warning France and others who are thinking of carrying out a rescue that we have the power to reach them wherever they are," he said. "We are demanding a ransom of at least $35m."

But later in a tersely-worded statement, a spokesman for the Kenyan government said they had not received any credible demands for a ransom to release the ship. He went on to say that the government would not negotiate with what it called international criminals, pirates and terrorists, and said efforts to recover the hijacked ship and its cargo would continue.

Hey Sailors! The USS Howard.

The good news? The USS Howard is keeping an eye on it.

A U.S. destroyer off the coast of Somalia closed in Saturday on a hijacked Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and ammunition, watching it to ensure the pirates who seized it do not try to remove any cargo or crew.

Meanwhile the Russian frigate, The Neuestrashimy has been ordered to the region.

In related hijacking news, the Malaysian tanker the Bunga Melati was released today after a $2 million ransom was paid.