Risky Waters

ATHENS, November 22, 2008 (AFP) – A Greek-owned chemical tanker freed by Somali pirates was heading for Saudi Arabia Saturday, Greece’s merchant shipping ministry said.

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The pirates had released the Liberian-flagged MV Genius on Friday after holding it since September 25, when it was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden.

The ministry said the 19 crew members comprised seamen from Georgia, Sri Lanka and Syria, contradicting earlier reports that they were all Romanians.

Two other Greek-owned freighters, the Centauri and the Captain Stephanos, are still in pirate hands.

Somali pirates have made millions of dollars in ransom money by seizing ships off east Africa.

According to the International Maritime Bureau they are still holding 17 ships, including the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, for which they want 25 million dollars.

Greece has the world’s largest merchant shipping fleet, accounting for 15 percent of total tonnage.

Greece’s navy is taking part in international efforts to counter piracy in the region.