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Kenyan Official: Somali Pirates Release Ship, 16 Crewmembers

A Kenyan maritime official says Somali pirates have released a cargo ship and its 16 crewmembers in exchange for a $100,000 ransom.

Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers' Assistance Program told reporters Tuesday that the Mariam Queen has been released and is heading toward Mogadishu.

Pirates had hijacked the ship off Somalia's coast on May 3. The ship travels under the flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a tiny island nation in the Caribbean.

Mwangura said he believes the ship's owners or Somali businessmen paid the ransom.

The Somali coast has recently experienced a rise in pirate attacks, which had stopped while Islamists ruled much of southern Somalia for several months last year.

Mwangura said another vessel that escaped a pirate attack earlier this month, the MV Victoria, is expected to dock in the Kenyan city of Mombasa Tuesday. The World Food Program had contracted that vessel to deliver aid supplies to Somalia.

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