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Thu, 11 Nov 2010 11:14 - Updated Thu, 11 Nov 2010 11:13

Somali pirates receive record ransom for ships' release

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Mogadishu - Somali pirates are reported to have received a total of $12.3m in ransom money to release two ships.


They are believed to have been paid a record $9.5m for Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker, and nearly $2.8m for the Golden Blessing, a Singaporean flagged ship.


"We are now counting our cash," a pirate who gave his name as Hussein told Reuters news agency. "Soon we shall get down from the ship."


All crew are believed to be unharmed.


The Samho Dream supertanker was hijacked in the Indian Ocean in April and its crew of five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos were taken hostage. It was carrying crude oil worth $170m  from Iraq to the US.


Although released it is still within Somali waters and the ship's 24 crew members are said to be in good condition.


Andrew Mwangura, co-ordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme in Mombasa, told Reuters that the ransom would be the highest paid out to pirates since they started hijacking ships in recent years.