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Last Updated: Monday, 19 September 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Pirates dock Somali hostage ship
Ruins left by the tsunami
Food on the ship was intended for Somali victims of the tsunami
Pirates who seized a UN-chartered ship with post-tsunami aid on 27 June have let it dock at a port near Somalia's capital, but are remaining aboard.

The MV Semlow arrived at Elmaan, north of Mogadishu, a spokeswoman for the UN's World Food Programme confirmed.

But it is unclear if Somalia's pirates have agreed to release the 10-strong crew and offload 850 tons of rice.

They had initially demanded $500,000 in ransom, before agreeing that Somalia's government would distribute the food.

The pirates had reportedly promised to leave the ship after the cargo was handed over to the Transitional Federal Government and under a condition that their allies would supervised the distribution of the food.

The crew comprises eight Kenyans, a Tanzanian and their Sri Lankan captain.

The ship was captured off Haradere east of Mogadishu, as it sailed from Mombasa in Kenya.

It had food for victims of last year's Indian Ocean tsunami, near the port of Bossaso.

WFP provides an average of 3,000 tons of aid a month to 275,000 people in Somalia.

But its work is hampered by concerns over security.

Somalia has had no functioning national government since 1991.

The International Maritime Board has warned of an alarming increase in piracy in Somali waters and has urged shipping to avoid the area.

Last month, three smaller fishing vessels were hijacked by gunman off the southern port town of Kismayo and some 40 crew members are being held hostage.


SEE ALSO:
Somali hostage deadline expires
09 Aug 05 |  Africa
WFP ultimatum over Somali ship
12 Jul 05 |  Africa
Pirates hijack tsunami aid ship
30 Jun 05 |  Africa


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