Somali Pirates Managed to Cut Hostages Down by 3,5 Million Dollars

A Chinese cargo ship with 25 crew members aboard was heading for a safe port after being released by pirates off the coast of Somalia, the European Union naval force in the region said Monday.

"The crew and the ship are in good condition and are now heading to a safe port," EUNAVFOR said in a statement after the bulk carrier Dexinhai was released Sunday.

Pirates said they were paid 3.5 million dollars (2.2 million euros) in ransom.

The Dexinhai was hijacked on October 18 northeast of the Seychelles as it was sailing to India from South Africa.

The vessel, owned by Qingdao Ocean Shipping, had been held on the Somali coast between the pirate lairs of Harardhere and Hobyo, where it laid at anchor with other captured vessels and negotiations on its fate began.

On Sunday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the hijacked vessel was under the protection of the Chinese naval escort fleet, according to a report by state news agency Xinhua.

Pirate leader Mohamed Rage told reporters by telephone: "We have been discussing with the Chinese ship owners for several weeks and they finally agreed to pay 3.5 million dollars."

AFP has contributed to the report.

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