Pirates have freed the Spanish fishing boat Alakrana, six weeks after hijacking it in the Indian Ocean, and all its crew are safe, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Tuesday. A pirate said a ransom had been paid.
Here is a list of ships under the control of Somali pirates:
WIN FAR 161: Taiwanese tuna boat, seized on April 6, 2009.
ARIANA: Seized on May 2, 2009 north of Madagascar en route to the Middle East from Brazil. The 24 Ukrainian crew were said to be unhurt. The Maltese-flag ship belongs to All Oceans shipping in Greece.
CHARELLE: Seized on June 12, 2009. The 2,800-tonne cargo ship carrying about nine crew was attacked south of Oman.
KOTA WAJAR: Seized on October 15, 2009. The 24,637-tonne container ship, seized 300 miles north of Seychelles, was heading for Mombasa from Singapore and had 21 crew on board.
DE XIN HAI - Seized on October 19, 2009. The Chinese bulk vessel carried about 76,000 tonnes of coal and 25 Chinese crew and was hijacked in the Indian Ocean 550 miles northeast of the Seychelles and 700 miles off the Somali coast. It is owned by the Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co.
AL KHALIQ - Seized on October 22, 2009. The Panamanian-registered ship carried 26 crew, 24 of them Indian. It is owned and operated by SNP Shipping of Mumbai. The 38,305 dwt bulk carrier was seized about 180 miles west of Seychelles.
LYNN RIVAL - Seized October 2009. A British couple, Paul and Rachel Chandler, were sailing to Tanzania on their 38-ft yacht when they were seized.
THAI UNION 3 - Seized on October 29, 2009. Pirates on two skiffs boarded the tuna fishing boat with 23 Russians, two Filipinos and two Ghanaians on board about 200 miles north of the Seychelles and 650 miles off the Somali coast.
DELVINA - Seized on November 5, 2009. The 53,629 dwt bulk carrier had 21 crew on board from the Ukraine and the Philippines and had a cargo of wheat. It was seized 250 miles northwest of Madagascar.
ALMEZAAN: Seized on November 8, 2009. The Panama-flagged cargo ship is being held near the northern Somali town of Garacad. Maritime sources say it is believed to be carrying light arms, ammunition, rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. On board were the captain and a crew of 15 Indians and 2 Pakistanis.
AL HILAL/AL HALIL: Seized on November 9, 2009. Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme named the Yemeni fishing vessel as the Al Hilal or Al Halil.
FILITSA: Seized on November 10, 2009. The 23,709 dwt cargo ship had a crew of about 24, 3 Greek officers and the rest Filipinos. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship had been heading from Kuwait to Durban, South Africa, when it was attacked 513 miles northeast of the Seychelles.
THERESA VIII: Seized on November 16, 2009. The chemical tanker was hijacked in the south Somali Basin, 180 nautical miles northwest of the Seychelles. The 22,294 dwt tanker had a crew of 28 North Koreans.
* PIRACY FACTS:
-- There were 324 pirate attacks worldwide in the year to October 20, with 37 vessels hijacked and 639 hostages taken. In the same period in 2008 there were 194 attacks, 36 ships hijacked and 631 hostages, according to the latest figures from the ICC International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Center (IMB).
-- Of the 324 incidents, attacks by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the east coast of Somalia numbered 174, with 35 vessels hijacked and 587 crew taken hostage .
-- Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.
Sources: Reuters/Ecoterra International/International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center/Lloyds List/Inquirer.net
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)