January 7, 2009 / 11:28 AM / 9 years ago

Somali pirates free Turkish cargo ship, ransom paid

ISTANBUL, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Somali pirates released a Turkish cargo ship hijacked in October after its owners paid a ransom, Turkey’s Anatolian news agency said on Wednesday.

The MV Yasa Neslihan was en route to China on Wednesday after pirates freed it in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Anatolian said, citing Fehmi Ulgener, a lawyer for the Yasa shipping company which owns the vessel.

Yasa officials had been negotiating with the ship’s captors for its release and had paid an undisclosed amount of money as ransom, Ulgener told the news agency. The 20 Turkish crew were all safe, he said.

The Marshall Island-flagged Neslihan was carrying 77,000 tonnes of iron ore from Canada to China when pirates seized the ship in the Gulf of Aden in late October.

Somali pirates seeking ransoms have hijacked some 40 ships in the last year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

NATO ships in October began anti-piracy operations near Somalia, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels that connects Europe with the Middle East and Asia. (Writing by Ayla Jean Yackley; Editing by Sophie Hardach)

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