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Somali pirates free Bangladesh cargo ship after ransom paid

April 14, 2024

All 23 crew members on board the ship were released, according to a shipping firm CEO. Somalia has seen an uptick in piracy in recent months amid other threats to maritime commerce in the Red Sea and elsewhere.

The silhouette of a Somali pirate looking at a ship on the horizon
Somalia has witnessed a surge in piracy in recent months as the Iranian-backed Houthis force international navies to divert their attention to the Red Sea Image: MOHAMED DAHIR/AFP/Getty Images

Somali pirates released the hijacked ship MV Abdullah on Sunday after its Bangladeshi owners reportedly paid a $5 million (€4.7 million) ransom.

Meherul Karim, CEO of shipping company KSRM, said the 23 crew members had been released unharmed.

"The pirates called us when they reached near the Somalia coast" and one of them spoke English, Karim told reporters in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Sunday.

"He communicated with us till we finalized the negotiation," he added. "We will not discuss or reveal the amount of ransom money."

The executives of KSRM addressing the media
The executives of KSRM held a press conference in the Bangladeshi port city of ChittagongImage: AFP/Getty Images

The wife of the ship's master told the AFP news agency that an airplane dropped three sacks filled with US dollars onto the ship.

News agency Reuters reported that the ransom was $5 million, citing two of the Somali pirates on the ship.

"The money was brought to us two nights ago as usual... we checked whether the money was fake or not. Then we divided the money into groups and left, avoiding the government forces," Abdirashiid Yusuf, one of the pirates, told Reuters.

What do we know about the ship?

The MV Abdullah is a bulk carrier that was transporting more than 55,000 tonnes of coal from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates.

Pirates seized the ship around 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) off the Somali coast a month ago.

After the ransom was paid, around 65 pirates left the ship on nine boats.

The MV Abdullah then resumed its journey to the UAE escorted by two European Union ships, Karim said.

He said the pirates gave the crew a letter of safe passage in Somali promising that "the ship would not come under any more attacks by pirates until it reached Dubai port."

Global shipping under threat

International shipping has come under renewed threat in recent months amid rising tensions in the Middle East.

This includes the Houthis in Yemen targeting ships in the Red Sea, as well as Iran's recent activities in the Strait of Hormuz.

Meanwhile, Somalia has seen a resurgence of pirate activity after international naval forces were diverted away to protect trade in the Red Sea.

Last month, Indian commandos boarded the Maltese-flagged MV Ruen, which had been captured by Somali pirates in December.

All 17 hostages were rescued and 35 alleged pirates were brought to Mumbai to face prosecution.

zc/wd (Reuters, AFP, dpa)