Pirates cut tanker ransom demand

DESTINATION UNKNOWN: Pirates have moved the tanker Sirius Star after threats from Islamist fighters.  Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknkown.
DESTINATION UNKNOWN: Pirates have moved the tanker Sirius Star after threats from Islamist fighters. Cicra 2008. Pic. Unknkown.

MOGADISHU - Somali pirates have reduced their ransom demand for a hijacked Saudi supertanker to $15million (R155million) and moved the ship after threats from an Islamist insurgent group, a local elder and an Islamist spokesman said yesterday.

MOGADISHU - Somali pirates have reduced their ransom demand for a hijacked Saudi supertanker to $15million (R155million) and moved the ship after threats from an Islamist insurgent group, a local elder and an Islamist spokesman said yesterday.

Pirates seized the Sirius Star, which is carrying a full load of crude oil worth $100million (R1billion), about 830km from the Kenyan port of Mombasa more than a week ago.

They initially demanded the ship owner pay a $25million (R262million) ransom by Sunday or face "disastrous action".

But, Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), said the pirates had now cut their price to $15million (R155million).

Adow had previously warned that Islamist fighters, who entered the port town of Harardhere where the hijacked tanker anchored last Tuesday, would attack the pirates for seizing a ship from a Muslim country.

Harardhere elder Hussein Khaliif said the pirates have now moved the ship to avoid confrontation.

"Islamist forces in Harardhere put pressure on the pirates holding the Saudi oil tanker to move away from the town.The ship has disappeared into the high seas." - Sapa-DPA

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