Sea Bandits

HONG KONG, November 20, 2008 (AFP) – A Hong Kong-flagged ship captained by a Sri Lankan that was hijacked two months ago off the coast of Somalia is returning home after its owner paid a ransom to a group of pirates, AFP was told Thursday. A spokeswoman for Sinotrans Shipping said its vessel Great Creation had left the Gulf of Aden Thursday afternoon after it was released by a group of Somali pirates late Wednesday.

“A ransom was paid. The vessel has left the Somali area safely and is in international waters heading back Hong Kong,” she told AFP.

“No one was hurt,” she added.

The crew, which had been held hostage since September, consists of a Sri Lankan captain, a technical officer from Hong Kong and 23 mainland Chinese sailors.

The vessel is carrying a large quantity of chemical fertilisers, the spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, a Hong Kong-registered cargo ship hijacked on Tuesday by pirates off the coast of Yemen is still being held, said a spokeswoman for the Hong Kong government.

“Our government is very concerned about the incident. The Marine Department is liaising closely with the owner of the ship and monitoring the development,” she told AFP.

The cargo ship Delight, carrying 25 crew members