Pirates seized a Ukrainian cargo ship off the Somali coast for ransom, and Ukrainian authorities have initiated negotiations with them, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday.
The vessel, Panagia, with 22 crew on board, was hijacked about 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the Somali coast on Tuesday. The pirates have demanded a US$700,000 (Ђ585,000) ransom.
"We have spoken with the captain of the ship ... all the Ukrainian citizens are alive and well," ministry spokesman Dmytro Svystkov said.
Ukraine has ordered its diplomats to ask the authorities of France, Great Britain and the United States, as well as NATO officials, to "review all the options for freeing the ship and the crew," he said, reports the AP.
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