Somali pirates said they had released two Spanish sailors held hostage on the hijacked Italian-flagged tanker Savina Caylyn, after receiving $5 million in ransom.
Jose Alfonso Garcia and Alfonso Rey were originally from the Mozambique-flagged and Spanish-owned fishing vessel FV VEGA 5,
seized by pirates last December with 24 crew near the Comoros Islands.
There was no independent confirmation of their release. Pirates said a ransom payment was airdropped onto the hijacked Italian tanker on Saturday, Reuters reports.
“We have received $5 million in ransom early this morning in exchange for the two Spanish men,” a pirate who gave his name as Adam told Reuters from the Savina Caylyn, moored near the town of Hobyo.
“The hostages have sailed away on a small boat.”
Spain’s High Court sentenced two Somali pirates to 439 years in prison each for their part in the hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat in the Indian Ocean in 2009.
Somali pirates typically hijack merchant vessels, take the ships to coastal towns they control and hold them until a ransom is paid. With ransoms often in the millions of dollars, the lucrative trade has continued despite foreign naval patrols.
Pirates used to focus on larger ships for a big payoff, but are now holding crew hostage on vessels of various sizes, often not the ones on which they were captured.
The Savina Caylyn was carrying a load of crude for the Arcadia commodities trading company. It was sailing from the Bashayer Oil Terminal in Sudan and was destined for Pasir Gudang port in Malaysia.