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Somali pirates free second Malaysian ship

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October 1, 2008

Somali pirates free second Malaysian ship

The second Malaysian International Shipping Corporation (MISC) tanker, hijacked in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates, has been freed, reported Malaysian national news agency Bernama.

The news agency quoted Defence Ministry director of public relations, Colonel Fadzlette Othman Merican as saying that the vessel, MT Bunga Melati Dua was released at 4.14am Tuesday and was now heading towards Djibouti, East Africa, with all the crew in good health except for a Filipino sailor who was shot dead in a crossfire when the ship was taken hostage on August 19.

She said a ransom of $2 million per vesssel had been paid by MISC and both ships would undergo a change in crew at Djibouti before departing for Malaysia on October 4.

"There were a few ships that had paid the ransom but yet to be released...they (the pirates) gave us priority," she added.

On Sunday, the pirates released MT Bunga Melati Lima and both vessels, it is learnt, are being escorted by Malaysian warships, the KD Lekiu and KD Sri Inderapura 2 to Djibouti.

On Sunday, after the release of the first tanker Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Defence Minister revealed that negotiations were on-going for the release of MT Bunga Melati Dua.

The MT Bunga Melati Dua, with a crew of 39 -- 29 Malaysian and the rest Filipinos -- was hijacked in the gulf, where maritime piracy is rampant, on August 19.

One of the Filipino crew was killed when hit by a stray bullet, when the ship was taken over by pirates.

Ten days later, the MT Bunga Melati Lima, with 36 Malaysian and five Filipino crew encountered the same fate while sailing from Yanbu, Saudi Arabia to Singapore.

Malaysia had sent KD Lekiu, KD Inderapura, and KD Pahang to escort MISC ships sailing in the risky waters following the two hijacking incidents.

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