June 17, 2011 / 7:00 AM / 7 years ago

Somali pirates free German ship after ransom paid

* Cargo ship, 10 crew released; $5.7 million ransom claimed

* Expert says payment made in Kenya, ship heads to Djibouti

By Abdiqani Hassan

BOSASSO, Somalia, June 17 (Reuters) - Somali pirates have freed a German-owned cargo ship, seized in April, after they received a ransom, a pirate and maritime source said on Friday.

The Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Susan K, and with its crew of 10 Ukrainians and Filipinos, was released on Thursday.

“The German cargo ship has now sailed away. We have taken $5.7 million in ransom,” pirate Ibrahim told Reuters by phone from coastal Ras Guna, in semi-autonomous state of Puntland.

Andrew Mwangura, maritime editor of The Somalia Report, confirmed the release. He said the ransom had been paid in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa but could not confirm the sum.

“Next port of call Djibouti. It is not yet known if she has started moving out to safe waters,” Mwangura told Reuters.

Somali pirates have been wreaking havoc in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, hijacking commercial vessels in defiance of international naval patrols of the bustling shipping lanes. [ID:nLDE75D0YJ]

The attacks have grown in sophistication and range and, according to the U.N. International Maritime Organisation, pirates now brave summer storms and winter monsoons that had previously kept them in port.

Crewmen held hostage are subjected to physical and emotional abuse by their captors, and have been used as human shields against counter-attacks or press-ganged into taking part in pirate operations, shipping monitors report. [ID:nLDE75513C] (Writing by Abdi Sheikh in Mogadishu; Editing by George Obulutsa and Dan Williams)

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