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Ransom allegedly paid to free German tanker

First Posted 19:32:00 03/28/2009

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NAIROBI -- A ransom has allegedly been paid to free a German-owned gas tanker seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden in January, an environment watchdog that also monitors piracy said Friday.

An unknown sum of money was delivered by aircraft on Friday afternoon and the MV Longchamp, captured on January 29, was set to be released afterwards, Ecoterra International said in a statement.

"If no last minute glitch occurs, the vessel should be free to sail in a few hours after the last pirate has left," it said.

The MV Longchamp was hijacked while under navy escort with its crew of 12 Filipino and an Indonesian captain and a cargo of liquefied petroleum gas on its way to the Far-East from Europe.

Ransom-hunting Somali pirates attacked more than 130 merchant ships in the region last year, an increase of more than 200 percent on 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

The number and success rate of pirate attacks has declined slightly since the start of the year, because of unfavorable sea conditions and an increased foreign naval presence in the Gulf of Aden.

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