SOMALI PIRATES RELEASE DUTCH VESSEL

AMSTERDAM - Somali pirates freed a Dutch freighter yesterday, but shot dead one of the Ukrainian crew members, according to the Dutch foreign ministry.

AMSTERDAM - Somali pirates freed a Dutch freighter yesterday, but shot dead one of the Ukrainian crew members, according to the Dutch foreign ministry.

Another crew member was shot and wounded, a spokesperson for the ministry said.

Dutch marines were providing medical assistance and escorting the Marathon vessel to neutral waters, nearly two months after it was captured in the Gulf of Aden.

It was not clear how or why the vessel was freed. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said force was not used but would not comment on whether a ransom was paid.

The Dutch owner-operator of the vessel, Cargadoor Amons and Co, declined to comment on the release or about whether any ransom was paid.

The Ukrainian embassy was not available for further comment.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry had earlier quoted its embassy saying the vessel had been released.

The 2575-ton Marathon was westbound through the Gulf of Aden when it was seized on May 7. Owned and flagged in the Netherlands, the ship was carrying coke fuel when it was hijacked.

According to the latest figures from the International Maritime Bureau, Somali pirates have seized 31 boats this year in 143 attacks, compared with 42 hijackings in 111 raids last year. - Reuters

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