German Ship Freed by Pirates Arrives in Kenya

A German freighter released by Somali pirates after nearly four months arrived Saturday in the Kenya port of Mombasa with the 24-member crew in good condition.

The 20,000-ton Hansa Stavanger was released earlier this month after being captured 400 miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu on April 4.

The commander of the German ship that escorted the Hansa Stavanger into Mombasa said the crew were in doing well, having had medical and dental checkups.

"The pirates took everything, including toothbrushes," Cmdr. Torsten Ites told journalists in Mombasa.

He did not confirm reports that a ransom was paid for the ship's release, saying "this is between the negotiators and also between the pirates; this is not for the military."

The Hansa Stavanger's multinational crew includes five Germans, three Russians, two Ukrainians, two Filipinos and 12 Tuvalus. Journalists did not have access to the crew, who were expected to fly home soon.

Pirates have conducted more than 100 attacks this year in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, and are currently holding about a dozen vessels.

Many bandits operate out of steamy coastal dens on the Somali coast.

In the pirate stronghold of Harardhere, witnesses said violence has killed 12 people in two days.

The fighting began late Friday as a dispute over a car, but escalated as clan militias got involved, local elder Osman Abdullah said.

Witness Nor Dahir said he saw at least 12 corpses and about 15 wounded people.

Somalia has had no effective central government since 1991.