Wednesday, 18 November 2009

'Alakrana' and its crew of 36 is free of the pirates

The big news in all Spanish media today is that the fishing boat Alakrana was released by the Somalian pirates yesterday. After being held for 47 days, the ship, with its full contingent of 36 crew members, is sailing towards the Seychelles, where a Spanish Air Force plane will bring them home. Some of the media say that a ransom of €2.7 million was paid by the owners, though this has not been confirmed by the Ministry of Defense. The government, which holds the next EU Presidency, plans to>
initiate a pan-European force to protect fishing rights in the Indian Ocean, the most dangerous waters in the world at present. Meanwhile, it has authorized the use of specially-trained private security personnel on all Spanish vessels in the area, most of which are already at their posts. Spanish Armada ships are also in the area, and there are reports that they fired on the pirates once the Alakrana was released.

The Spanish ambassador to Kenya, Nicolás Martín Cinto (photo), who secured the release, said that a new negotiating tactic begun on November 6 and a new translator, was key to the success of the negotiations. In a statement he added that "not only was she an excellent translator but also a bit of a psychologist."

There are some 30 ships held by the pirates at various points on the African coast, principally in Kenya, and an Australian container ship was captured yesterday by the well-financed pirates. Governments throughout the world are agreeing that the piracy arises from the extreme poverty of Somalia and many are initiating plans to help that country.

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