Pirates have reportedly been paid $9.5 million in ransom to release oil tanker crew

Pirates have reportedly been paid $9.5m to release hostages held for 10 months after a Greek-owned oil tanker was seized in the Arabian Sea.

Isse Abdullahi, believed to be one of the four pirates who financed the hijacking of the MT Symyrni, told Reuters over the phone: “We took $9.5 million in ransom money and got off from the crude tanker on Friday night.”

Abdullahi also said that two of the ship’s 26 crew were ill.

The ship’s owners, Dynacom Tankers Management, wouldn’t confirm rumours that the pirates were paid any ransom. They contradicted Abdhullahi, saying in a statement “all of the crew members are in good physical condition”.

The oil tanker was hijacked in May last year, when it was sailing to Indonesia with 135,000 tonnes of oil on board.

This is the second ship to be released by Somali pirates within a few days. A chemical tanker seized over a year ago, with over 20 crew on board, was released last week.

The EU Naval Force’s flagship, a Spanish warship named ESPS Mendez Nunez, was tasked with escorting MT Symyrni as she moved away from the pirate anchorage.

Rear Admiral Pedro Garcia de Parades, who is the force commander of the EU counter-piracy task force, said that the threat of piracy still remains.

“We must remember that two ships are still being held by pirates and 60 men are still being held hostage against their will,” he said. “Recent disruptions by EU Naval Force warships show that pirates are still intent on getting out to sea to attack ships.”