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Somali pirates release Stolt Valor

November 16, 2008 10:52 IST
Last Updated: November 16, 2008 14:33 IST

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M T Stolt Valor, a cargo ship with 18 Indian sailors on board and hijacked by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden two months back, has been released, National Union of Seafarers of India said on Sunday.

The Indian sailors were on the way to Mumbai, it said.

NUSI Chairman Abdul Gani said, "There is no major medical problem (among the sailors)."

He refused to go into details about the release but said, "Definitely, ransom has been paid but we will not be able to go into details of the amount."

Gani also thanked the Indian Navy and said, "We appreciate the efforts of the Indian Navy. Definitely it (Stolt Valor) would be escorted out safely from the danger zone."

Seema Goel, wife of the ship's Captain Prabhat Goel, told PTI, "I got official information from DG shipping that the ship has been released by the hijackers on Sunday. They will be reaching India in another four-five days."
Asked whether any ransom was paid for the release, Goel said she had no information how the release was secured.

The cargo ship, owned by a Japanese company and managed by Fleet Marine Ltd in Mumbai, was hijacked by the armed Somali pirates on September 15. The hijackers had demanded a ransom of $6 million for the release of the crew but later brought the amount down to $2.5 million.

Reacting to the development, a relieved Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu said he had requested Defence Minister A K Antony and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to extend help in getting the sailors in the hijacked ship released.

He said the Indian Navy had sent a warship to the area in the Gulf of Aden where the ship had been hijacked.

Observing that efforts should be made to ensure that such incidents do not happen again, Baalu said, "There was no government (in Somalia). Had there been one, we could have opened diplomatic channel to solve this issue. Everyone had come in handy to see that the vessel was freed from the pirates."

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