Somali pirates have reportedly released the Panamanian-flagged Roll-on/Roll-off, M/V Leila, and 24 crewmembers.
The details of the Leila’s release are still a bit fuzzy, but Somalia Report indicates that the vessel could have been released for far less ransom than was originally demanded as a result of Puntland authorities and elders applying pressure on the pirates saying the hijacking created unwanted attention for the region.
“Religious elders played an important role and finally succeeded in releasing the vessel from the pirates,” a local businessman told Somalia Report. “The elders had asked the pirates before to release the vessel unconditionally, but the pirates had refused. Finally, the elders asked this group to accept a sum which covered the expenses of the hijacking, and pirates accepted. These negotiations between the pirates, elders and owners were private. The pirates final demand was $150,000, and when the owners agreed to paid this, the pirates released the vessel, but it was meant to remain secret.”
The M/V Leila was hijacked by a group of Somali pirates on February 15 while underway approximately 50 nm off the coast of Oman. The 24-strong crew are said to be in good condition and the vessel is sailing to the Port of Berbera.
The vessel is owned and operated by New Port Cargo & Shipping of Dubai.