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Pirates Release Ukrainian Ship Seized Near Somalia

27 November 2005 -- Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has said that pirates freed a Ukrainian cargo ship seized nearly 40 days ago off the coast of Somalia.

The Foreign Ministry announced today that the ship's 22 crewmembers are safe after being freed late on 26 November.

It was not immediately clear if the $700,000 ransom demanded by the pirates had been paid, although officials in Kyiv had previously said the Ukrainian owners of the vessel were prepared to pay.

The ship, owned by an unidentified company from Ukraine's southern city of Odesa, was sailing under a Liberian flag and was carrying iron ore from South Africa to Turkey when it was seized on 18 October.

President Viktor Yushchenko spoke by telephone with the ship's captain and wished him and his crew a safe journey home.

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