Somali pirates free German chemical tanker

Pirates in the port of Hobyo, file image Pirates are said to get rich from the ransoms they are paid

Somali pirates have freed a German-owned chemical tanker, reportedly after a $5.5m (£3.6m) ransom was paid.

The Marida Marguerite, with a crew of 19 Indians, two Bangladeshis and one Ukrainian, was seized in May by pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

Kenya-based officials said a ransom was paid, but there was no independent confirmation.

Pirates now hold 25 vessels and 587 hostages after they seized another German-owned ship on Monday.

The EU's Indian Ocean anti-piracy force (Navfor) said in a statement that the cargo ship Ems River was taken in the early hours, about 200 miles (325km) north-east of the port of Salalah in Oman.

The ship was on its way to Greece from Dubai at the time of the attack, carrying a cargo of petroleum coke.

The EU said it had an eight-strong crew of one Romanian and seven Filipinos.

One Tuesday afternoon, the Marida Marguerite was sailing to safe waters, according to Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme.

He said $5.5m was paid to release the ship. The vessel's owners have not yet commented.

Officials and companies rarely comment on the payment of ransoms, though analysts say such deals are widespread.

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