June 22, 2009 / 10:09 AM / 10 years ago

Pirates say free seven crew from Seychelles yacht

MOGADISHU, June 22 (Reuters) - Pirates in Somalia said on Monday they had freed the seven crew members from Seychelles yacht Indian Ocean Explorer.

Pirates seized the oceanographic research cruiser at the end of March near the Seychelles’ island of Assumption, the second vessel flying the Indian Ocean nation’s flag to be hijacked.

"We have released the Seychelles crew, they flew this morning," pirate Hassan told Reuters by phone from Haradheere.

Seychelles’ minister for the environment, natural resources and transport, Joel Morgan, said on Monday he was in Kenya’s capital Nairobi negotiating the release of the crew.

"I can’t comment. It’s too sensitive at the moment," he told Reuters.

The International Maritime Bureau says more ships have been attacked off Somalia so far in 2009 than in the whole of 2008, but fewer of those attacks have been successful. (Reporting by Abdi Guled in Mogadishu and Richard Lough in Antananarivo, editing by David Clarke)

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