Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Somali pirates free Turkish ship

Somali pirates in a speedboat in the Indian Ocean
Somali piracy has become a major international issue

A Turkish ship and its crew held by Somali pirates since October have been released, the ship's owner says.

A company lawyer was quoted on one source saying that the Yasa Holding Company had paid a ransom for its ship.

Fehmi Ulgener told the AFP news agency that the 20 crew members were "well and in good spirits".

Several other ships, including two others from Turkey, are still being held in the region. Somali piracy has become a major international issue.

A number of countries have begun naval patrols off East Africa and in the Gulf of Aden to try to combat the attacks.

The ship, the Yasa Neslihan, was transporting 77,000 tonnes of iron ore from Canada to China when it was hijacked in the Gulf Of Aden on 29 October.

"Our ship was released on Tuesday evening and is sailing towards safe waters," Mr Ulgener told AFP.

He said the vessel would then resume its journey to China.

He said a ransom was paid but did not say how much.

"An agreement was reached after lengthy negotiations," was all he would say.

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