Somali pirates say they have freed Greek ship

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MOGADISHU, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Somali pirates freed a Greek ship on Monday after they received a $2 million ransom for the vessel and its 21 Filipino crew, one of the pirates said.

The Irene E.M. bulk carrier was seized on April 13 in the Gulf of Aden, where heavily armed gangs from Somalia have made tens of millions of dollars in ransoms targeting vessels using the strategic shipping lanes that link Europe to Asia.

"We released the Greek ship after taking a $2 million ransom," a pirate who gave his name as Hussein told Reuters by telephone from the coastal pirate stronghold of Eyl.

"We already left the vessel and now we are dividing our money. A helicopter brought the cash this morning."

Foreign navies have been deployed off the coast of the lawless Horn of Africa state since the start of the year to try to prevent more attacks on ships.