A Somali minister in the semiautonomous northern region of Puntland says pirates have freed a Yemeni cargo ship and its eight crew members without receiving any ransom.

State minister Ali Abdi Aware says the pirates released the ship Tuesday night after an appeal by local clan elders and regional officials.

Aware said Wednesday that "no ransom was paid."

A Yemeni security official had said the pirates were initially demanding a $2 million ransom to release the ship and its crew of three Yemenis, three Somalis and two Panamanians.

The ship was seized last month in the Arabian Sea. It was one of 40 vessels hijacked this year, out of about 100 attacked off the Somali coast where piracy has become rampant.