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Somali Pirates Said to Be Leaving Ship

After four months and seemingly endless negotiations, the wily band of Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian ship packed with tanks and other weapons seemed on Thursday finally ready to let go.

According to one of the pirates, the owners of the ship had paid the ransom; the pirates had counted the money; and now they were just waiting for nightfall to slip away from the ship.

“Only around 10 pirates are still on board,” said the pirate, Isse Mohammed, on Thursday afternoon. “They will disembark this evening.”

The hijacking of the Ukrainian ship, called the Faina, stirred up fears of a new epoch of piracy and helped precipitate a rash of similar attacks off Somalia’s coast and an unprecedented naval response in return. Warships from China, India, Italy, Russia, France, the United States, Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Greece, Turkey, Britain and Germany have all joined the fight against the pirates, though the attacks have continued.

The pirates aboard the Faina would not reveal how much they had netted in ransom — originally they were asking for more than $20 million. According to businessmen on shore, the ransom was around $3 million and the money was dropped by parachute from a small plane, which seems to be the new way to deliver pirate booty. Last month, a huge Saudi oil tanker that had been hijacked was freed in a similar way.

complete article @ NYTimes

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