Monday 19 February 2018

Pirates say they'll cut ransoms to increase hijack rate

Mohamed Ahmed in Mogadishu

Somali pirates announced last night they would lower some of their ransom demands to get a faster turnover of ships they hijack in the Indian Ocean.

Armed pirate gangs, who have made millions of dollars capturing ships as far south as the Seychelles and eastwards toward India, said they were holding too many vessels and needed a quicker handover to generate more income.

"I believe there is no excuse for taking high ransoms. At least each of our groups holds ships now," pirate Hussein told Reuters from Hobyo on the Somalian coast. He said the pirates were holding more than 30 ships.

"We have lowered the ransom only for the ships we have used to hijack other ships. We sometimes release these ships free of charge for they generate more (money). But we shall not lower the ransom for the bulk ships we are sure can bring bulk money."

Using captured merchant vessels as launchpads for new hijackings, the pirates have grown bolder despite a loosely co-ordinated global response.

Pirates hold seized ships for an average of up to 150 days before freeing them for ransoms, some as high as $9.5m (€6.8m) for the release of Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker.

Abdullahi, another pirate, said any decrease in ransom would be calculated by the ship's value, its cargo and how long it had been held.

"We want to free ships within a short period of time instead of keeping them for a long time and incurring more expenses in guarding them," he said.

Irish Independent

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