Somali pirates free second Malaysian tanker

September 30th, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 30 (DPA) Somali pirates have released a second Malaysian oil tanker after the government paid a ransom of $2 million, officials and news reports said Tuesday.The MT Bunga Melati 2, which was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden off Yemen Aug 19, was released early Monday and was now heading towards Djibouti in East Africa, a spokesman from the defence ministry confirmed.

Armed pirates had attacked the ship, killing a Filipino national crew member. The 38 other crew members were reported to be in good health, said Fadzlette Othman Merican, the ministry’s director of public relations.

On Sunday, the pirates released another Malaysian tanker - the MT Bunga Melati 5 - and its 41-member crew. The ship had been attacked 10 days after pirates hijacked the MT Bunga Melati 2.

Fadzlette said a ransom of $2 million for each vessel had been paid, adding that both ships would depart to Malaysia from Djibouti Oct 4.

“There were a few ships that had paid the ransom but yet to be released…they (the pirates) gave us priority,” she told the official Bernama news agency.

Following the hijacks Malaysia sent two warships to escort its ships sailing in pirate-infested Somali waters.

Somalia’s coast has become extremely dangerous in recent years due to the lack of an effective central authority since 1991.

The anti-piracy International Maritime Bureau has urged the United Nations to step up efforts to ensure the safety of ships travelling in the troubled waters.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, is one of the world’s busiest waterways with some 20,000 ships passing through each year.

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