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Pirates move Saudi VLCC to unknown destination

Jeddah:  The hijacked Saudi supertanker Sirius Star has been moved from the port of Haradheere to an unknown destination, an official of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia said Sunday, citing information from tribal leaders and mediators negotiating with the pirates, the Saudi Gazette reported.
However, the claim could not be verified from port authorities at Haradheere where the Sirius Star was sighted after it was hijacked last weekend.
Yousif Adso, Secretary of the TFG Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the rival administration of the Islamic Courts movement had been negotiating with the pirates to free the vessel, and that the pirates themselves showed signs of disagreement over the size of the ransom and methods of payment. The hijackers have reportedly asked for a $25 million ransom.
Ados said that the situation had been complicated by demands from the hijackers of 12 other vessels seeking joint negotiations.
The TFG, led by President Abdullah Yousif and Prime Minister Nour Hasan Hussien, is in contact with the head of Puntland, Atallah Mousa, as well as tribal leaders and mediators to release the Sirius Star. Adso said they had urged Mousa to put an end the crisis which he expected to be over shortly.
Adso said that although a ransom could be paid to free the Sirius Star, it would encourage piracy in the future. Military force, he added, would only have detrimental effects.
Adso quoted the head of the Islamic Courts, Sheikh Sharif, as saying that the movement would seek to secure the vessel's release and that the movement in no way approved of the hijacking.
Meanwhile, in Dammam, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd, Emir of the Eastern Province, has said that the Saudi government is working on the safe return of the crew of the hijacked supertanker. The Prince has also personally spoken to Mousa Aal Hamza, the father of the only Saudi member of the crew. The Emir said the pirates were seeking money and did not intend to threaten the lives of the crew.  [24/11/08]


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