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Somali Pirates Release Iranian Chartered Cargo Ship


Iranian media report Somali pirates have released an Iranian chartered cargo ship seized off the coast of Yemen in November.

The reports published Saturday did not say if a ransom had been paid for the Hong Kong- flagged ship and its 25 member crew.

It was carrying 36,000 tons of wheat when it was seized.

The ship is the second to be released by pirates in two days. On Friday a Saudi-owned oil tanker hijacked nearly two months ago was allowed to sail for open waters following the reported payment of a three-million dollar ransom.

The pirates had originally demanded $25 million for the ship and the two million barrels of oil it was carrying.

That ship's capture in November set off a frenzy in the international shipping industry and drew worldwide attention to the rampant piracy off the coast of East Africa.

Pirates have seized scores of ships in the waters near Somalia during the past year and collected millions of dollars in ransom.

A number of nations - including China, Malaysia and the United States, as well as the European Union - have dispatched warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect the busy shipping lanes that pass through it.

On Thursday, the U.S. Navy announced the formation of a new international force to fight piracy in the region.

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

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