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Somali Pirates Want $4 Mln Ransom For Spanish Purse Seiner

Somali pirates holding a Spanish tuna trawler for the past 12 days on Wednesday demanded four million dollars for the release of the ship and its 36-member crew, one of the pirates told AFP.

The pirates also demanded, as a pre-condition of any deal, the release of two colleagues who are in Spanish custody, Abdi Yare, a 30-year-old pirate told AFP by phone from coastal Harardhere village, off which the Spanish trawler, the Alakrana, is anchored

Harardhere is considered to be the second-biggest base of operations for Somali pirates after the port of Eyl.

“We also demand four million US dollars (2.8 million euros) as a payment for illegally fishing in Somalia. After that we will release the fishing boat. Unless those conditions are met we will not make any deal,” he said.

“The amount of fish they have stolen from Somalia is more than the amount of the ransom we have demanded,” he added.

The 100-metre (358-foot) Alakrana was seized in the high seas between Somalia and the Seychelles as calmer waters at the end of the monsoon season made vessels more vulnerable to attacks.

The vessel, whose 36 crew members comprise nationals of Spain, Ghana, Indonesia, Madagascar, Senegal and the Seychelles, was far from a zone protected by the Spanish military at the time of the attack, Spanish officials said.

After the seizure of the Alakrana, an official with Ecoterra International, an environmental group that also monitors piracy, said they were probing whether it was a case of illegal fishing or just an act of piracy.