The owners of a Greek ship hijacked more than six months ago off the coast of Somalia denied it had been released by Somali pirates.
Pirates in the Somali coastal town of Haradheere said earlier yesterday they had released the Maltese-flagged Ariana after agreeing a ransom.
"It is not true. The ship is still there, in the pirates’ possession," Spyros Minas, head of Alloceans shipping, told Reuters.
"The information on the amount of the ransom is also not true," said Minas, who declined to provide further details.
The Ariana was carrying 24 Ukrainian crew when it was seized on May 2 north of Madagascar en route to the Middle East from Brazil. The ship belongs to Alloceans shipping in Greece.
Pirates said in Oct. 29 the ship was about to be released, but negotiations over the ransom to be paid again appeared to have blocked any release.
A pirate in another haven for the sea gangs on the Somali coast said the vessel may be released soon, but the ransom price remained a stumbling block.
"We want $3.5 million though the owners are bargaining at $2 million. We hope the negotiation will be over in the coming days if not hours," pirate Farah said by satellite phone from Hobyo.
A senior diplomat at the Ukrainian embassy in Nairobi, Kenya also said the report of the release was incorrect.
Heavily armed Somali pirates have plagued the busy shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa for several years. Foreign warships from 16 countries are in the area to try to prevent hijackings.