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17 Dec 2010

Somali pirates have released the Liberian-flagged MV Eleni P, seven months after she was seized about 250 nautical miles off the Omani coast, EU anti-piracy mission confirmed on Saturday.

A brief statement from the EU Naval Force Somalia said the Greek-owned bulk carrier, deadweight 72,119 tons, was pirated on May 12 with 23 crew mostly Filipinos. "The MV Eleni P has a crew of 23, of which 19 are Filipinos, 2 are Greek, one Ukrainian and one Romanian," Naval Force spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said.

The latest development came as Somali pirates intensified its attacks on foreign vessels resulting in the increase in the cost of import of goods and services in Kenya and the East Africa region.

Most hijackings end without casualties when a ransom has been paid, but often after several months of negotiations. The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia. Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden.

About four per cent of the world's daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

The attacks are being carried out by increasingly well- coordinated Somali gangs armed with automatic weapons and rocket- propelled grenades, maritime officials said.

The Horn of Africa nation has been without a functioning government since 1991, and remains one of the world's most violent and lawless countries.

Combined Task Force 150, a naval alliance dominated by the United States and based in the Gulf of Aden nation of Djibouti, is patrolling an area within the Gulf of Aden to help protect ships from pirates.


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