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11 Oct, 2008 11:12

Pirates threaten to blow up ship

Pirates who seized a Ukrainian ship off the Somalian coast around two weeks ago are threatening to blow up the vessel within three days if the 8-million dollar ransom is not paid. The pirates say talks to free the ship have failed.

The vessel is carrying a crew of 17 Ukrainians, 3 Russians and one Latvian. It also has a cargo of 33 T-72 tanks onboard. The captain who was also Russian died of a heart attack shortly after the ship was seized.

The cargo is subject to a parliamentary investigation in Ukraine along with other arms contracts. The commission suspects many of the deals lacked transparency or were illegal.

Earlier the ship owner got in touch with a pirate who said his name was Muhammad, according to the Maritime Bulletin Sovfracht website. The man said they considered the value of Faina’s load much greater then the value of the ship itself, so they wanted the owner of the weapons to pay for their return.

Meanwhile, the Iranian vessel Iran Deyanat was released by the pirates who seized her seven week ago, reports the news agency IRNA.

The vessel was rumoured to have chemical weapons on board, a claim the country denies. The terms of the release were not revealed.

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