Somali Pirates Deny Arms Seizure
Somali Pirates Deny Arms Seizure

The official Chinese news agency says a Chinese cargo ship seized two months ago off Somalia has been released by its hijackers and its crew of 25 is safe.

Xinhua quotes the Chinese Marine Search and Rescue Center as saying the vessel (the De Xin Hai) is under protection of the Chinese naval escort fleet.

The report made no mention of the payment of a ransom of nearly $4 million.  The money was said to have been dropped by helicopter on the deck of the ship.

Th vessel, carrying some 76,000 tons of coal from South Africa to India, was seized in mid-October about 650 kilometers northeast of the Seychelles islands and 1,300 kilometers off Somalia's coast.

The October hijacking was the first of a Chinese freighter since China deployed three warships to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Somali pirates in recent years have seized dozens of ships, often getting muti-million ransoms for their release.

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