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Somali pirates release Iranian chartered ship

world Updated: Jan 10, 2009 15:17 IST

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Somali pirates have released an Iranian chartered vessel which was seized off the coast of Yemen in November, Iranian media reported on Saturday, a day after a Saudi supertanker was freed for a $3 million ransom.

The Delight, which was seized on its way to Iran from Germany carrying 36,000 tonnes of wheat, was freed on Friday night, news agencies said. The reports did not say whether any ransom had been paid.

The Hong Kong flagged Delight, with 25 crew, was chartered by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), the country's biggest shipping firm.

"The Delight ship, which was hijacked by Somali pirates, was released after 53 days on Friday night," IRISL's emergency reaction committee said, according to the IRNA and Fars news agencies.

All the crew were safe and the ship was on its way to Iran, media said.

On Friday, pirates freed Saudi supertanker Sirius Star, whose capture in November with a $100 million cargo drew attention to a surge in piracy off Somalia which worsened dramatically in 2008 as an Islamist insurgency fuelled chaos onshore.

Piracy in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean shipping lanes has sent insurance prices soaring, made some owners choose to go round South Africa instead of through the Suez Canal, and brought an unprecedented deployment of warships to the region.