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Somali Pirates Release Greek Ship


Greek merchant shipping officials say a Greek-owned chemical tanker ship hijacked in September has been released.

The ministry says the 19 crew members - from Georgia, Sri Lanka, and Syria - are safe and the cargo is intact. There is no word as to what ransom, if any, was paid.

Earlier Saturday, Somali Islamic insurgents said they will fight the pirates holding a Saudi supertanker off the country's coast.

A spokesman for the group al-Shabab said Friday that ships belonging to Muslim countries should not be seized. The hijacked ship is loaded with 100 million dollars worth of crude oil.

Pirates have seized eight ships of the coast of Somalia in the past two weeks.

African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping told VOA the increased activity by Somali pirates is a symptom of the country's political failure.

Ping says Somalia's U.N.-backed transitional government is at the brink of collapse.

Islamist insurgents carry out frequent attacks in the capital Mogadishu and have captured two of Somalia's major ports.

Pirates have seized eight ships near Somalia in the past two weeks, - and about 40 ships this year, including the Saudi supertanker carrying 100-million dollars worth of crude oil.

The United States, India, Russia and other countries have sent naval ships to the region to try and stop the pirates.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991 when rebels toppled President Mohamed Siad Barre.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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