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Somali Pirates Release Hijacked Dutch Vessel

The Dutch Defense Ministry says Somali pirates have freed a hijacked cargo ship, but one of the crew members was found dead.

The ministry says pirates released the MV Marathon late Monday, 46 days after it was captured in the Gulf of Aden.

The ship originally had eight crew members, all Ukrainian. The ministry says one of them died of a gunshot wound sustained when pirates hijacked the ship May 7.

Another crew member was injured but is reported to be stable.

A Dutch military vessel is now escorting the ship to port.

It is not clear whether a ransom was paid.

The Netherlands is one of about a dozen countries conducting naval patrols off Somalia. Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past two years.

The hijackings have come to a near stop in recent weeks because of seasonal monsoon activity.

The pirates are believed to still be holding about 14 ships with more than 200 crew members.

Somalia's weak central government is fighting an Islamist insurgency and is unable to stop the piracy.

The piracy is fueled by ransom payments, some in the millions of dollars.

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