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Somali Pirates Free British-Owned Ship

Maritime officials said Somali pirates have released a British-owned, Italian-operated cargo ship seized more than a month ago.

An official with the East African Seafarers Assistance Program, Andrew Mwangura, said the ship was freed Saturday.

Authorities said the pirates let the ship go after getting the ransom money they requested, but it is unclear how much that was.

The 30,000-ton ship was hijacked on April 6. It was carrying 24 crew members, including 16 Bulgarians, and several Russians, Ukrainians and Filipinos. Officials said all of the crew members appear to be in good health.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the last year-and-a-half, receiving millions of dollars in ransom payments to release vessels and their crews.

The European Union, along with the United States and other nations, has been conducting naval patrols off the coast of Somalia to protect commercial vessels and deter pirate attacks.

Somalia's weak central government lacks the power to stop the piracy.

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