Somali pirates who hijacked the Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star Thursday demanded $25 million in ransom and set a 10-day deadline.
“We are demanding $25 million from the Saudi owners of the tanker,” said Mohamed Said, one of the pirates, in a phone interview from the ship anchored off the Somali coast.
“We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter. The Saudis have 10 days to comply. Otherwise we will take action that could be disastrous.”
The Sirius Star with its full cargo of two million barrels of oil has set new records as the most audacious hijack the pirates have yet managed, the largest ship yet taken and the attack furthest away from Somalia.
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Seized over the weekend in the Indian Ocean some 500 miles off the coast of Kenya, the vessel is now anchored at the Somali pirate lair of Harardhere, according to local officials.
Wednesday Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, confirmed that the ship’s owners were in talks with the pirates, but the company that operates the Sirius Star has remained tight-lipped about the claims of negotiations.
“We cannot confirm, nor deny” reports of negotiations with the hijackers, said Mihir Sapur, the spokesman of Vela International, a subsidiary of Saudi oil giant Saudi Aramco.
The tanker's crew of 25 include two men from Britain, alongside 19 from the Philippines, two from Poland, one Croatian and one Saudi.