Somali pirates demand $2 mn for release of Germans

July 1st, 2008 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Mogadishu, July 1 (DPA) Somali pirates are demanding $2 million for the release of a German couple kidnapped off the country’s coast, an intermediary in the negotiations said Tuesday. Pirates abducted the couple June 23 as they sailed through the Gulf of Aden on a trip from Egypt to Thailand.

The kidnappers then abandoned the yacht on the shore and disappeared into a nearby mountainous area with their hostages.

While the couple are in good health and being treated well, the man suffers from diabetes and has not had access to insulin for several days, the intermediary said.

Talks over the release of German cargo ship the MV Lehmann Timber are also in deadlock and concerns are growing for the welfare of the crew, four of whom are said to be ill and in urgent need of medical treatment.

Piracy is rife off the coast of the 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 UN 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 has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

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