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Somali pirates release ship's crew - Ukrainian newspaper

KIEV, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Somali pirates, who seized a German cargo vessel in May, have released the crew after a ransom was paid, a Ukrainian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Lehmann Timber was seized in the Gulf of Aden on May 28. The crew taken hostage included: the Russian captain, and a crew of four Ukrainians, one Estonian and nine Myanmar nationals.

The pirates are reported to have set July 7 as the ransom deadline and promised to kill the crew if it was not paid. Although shots were heard from the vessel late on Monday, the captain, who was in touch with the Ukrainian authorities, said the pirates fired in the air probably trying to scare the crew and negotiators.

"Today, at 5 a.m., the ransom was brought to the Lehmann Timber board. The pirates counted the money for several hours and then the vessel headed to the closest port. The exact sum of money is unknown, but the hostages said that the bandits had demanded $750,000," the Segodnya newspaper said on its website.

The waters off the East African nation are considered among the most dangerous in the world. According to the United Nations, 26 pirate attacks on civilian ships have occurred in the area since the start of this year.

In late June, a Dutch-owned ship with four Russian and five Filipino crew members was released by pirates. The Amiya Scan, managed by the Reider Shipping company, was seized off the coast of northern Somalia on May 25 as it sailed to Romania from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

On April 4, after a French yacht and its 30 crew were seized in Somali waters, French forces conducted a military operation that resulted in the capture of six pirates.

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