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Somali Pirates Strike Deal On Ukrainian Ship

A U.S. Navy photograph of Somali pirates aboard the "MV Faina"
NAIROBI (Reuters) -- Somali pirates and owners of a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 tanks and other military hardware have reached a deal to release the vessel and its crew after a two-month standoff, a Kenyan maritime official has said.

"They have reached a deal but are still discussing the modalities of releasing the ship, crew, and cargo," said Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Program. "Talks on how to deliver the money are ongoing. What I hear are that things are good and that the ship should be released."

The 20 crewmembers aboard include 17 Ukrainians, Russians, and Latvians.

Gunmen captured the "MV Faina" on September 24 and demanded $20 million in ransom. The ship was carrying 33 T-72 tanks, grenade launchers, and ammunition destined for Kenya's Mombasa port.

A piracy wave in the Gulf of Aden has jacked up shipping insurance costs, sent foreign warships rushing to the area, and left about a dozen vessels with more than 200 hostages still in hijackers' hands.