Pirates free ship with Sri Lankan sailors off Somalia

NAIROBI, April 7, 2007 (AFP) – Pirates have released a UN-chartered cargo ship and an Indian vessel they captured in the unpatrolled waters off the coast of Somalia, a maritime official said Saturday. Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said the hijackers freed the MV Rozen on Friday, more than a month after it was seized after delivering 1,800 metric tonnes of relief food shipped by the UN World Food Programme.

“Information reaching us indicates that MV Rozen has been released and it is expected in Mombasa any time,” Mwangura told AFP. “It was released yesterday. We are told that the crew is fine.”

Mwangura added that the hijackers also freed the MV Nimatullah, an Indian cargo vessel snatched on April 1 as it anchored at Mogadishu port, and its 14-member crew.

“We also have information that MV Nimatullah has been released. It was also released yesterday.”

The hijackers forced the MV Nimatullah to sail to waters off northeastern Somalia where it had been held since the weekend.

The 800-tonne ship was ferrying general household goods to Mogadishu, where Ethiopian forces have been battling local clan militia opposed to their presence in the war-torn capital.