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Germany

Somali Pirates Demand $2 Million Ransom for German Hostages

Somali pirates behind the kidnapping of a German couple last week are now demanding a two million dollar ransom for their release.

Man standing on seashore

Piracy off the Horn of Africa is rampant

The couple, who were sailing through the Gulf of Aden on a trip from Egypt to Thailand, were abducted on June 23 near the coast of Somalia. The kidnappers took the couple ashore before abandoning the yacht and disappearing into a nearby mountainous area in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

An intermediary in the negotiations for the hostages' release told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that the couple are in good health and being treated well, although the man suffers from diabetes and has not had access to insulin for several days.

The situation is quite different for the crew of the German-flagged cargo ship the MV Lehmann Timber. At least four members of that crew are said to be ill and in urgent need of medical treatment after being kidnapped in nearby waters. Talks for their release are in deadlock.

Another cargo ship captured at the same time as the MV Lehmann Timber was released after the pirates received a ransom of one million dollars.

Rampant piracy on the Somalian seas

Piracy is rife off the coast of the relatively lawless Horn of Africa nation. Cargo ships and luxury yachts have been targeted by heavily-armed pirates, who then hold the crew ransom.

The most high-profile case in recent months involved the capture of a luxury French yacht in April. French troops rescued the hostages and captured six of the pirates, although another six are believed to have escaped.

The United Nations Security Council recently approved incursions into Somali waters to curb piracy, which the weak transitional government, currently engaged in countering a bloody insurgency, is powerless to prevent.

Somalia, whose coast commands access to the Red Sea, has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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