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Pirates release German cargo ship, company says

  • Story Highlights
  • Pirates seized the MV Lehmann Timber and its crew in Gulf of Aden May 28
  • Crew of 14 are all "well," the vessel's owner says
  • Pirate attacks up this year, the International Maritime Bureau says
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(CNN) -- Pirates have released a German cargo ship and its crew of 14 after holding them for nearly six weeks, the vessel's owner said Wednesday.

The "pirates have left the ship," Holger Lehmann of the shipping company Lehmann GmbH told CNN.

He said the pirates seized the MV Lehmann Timber and its crew -- comprised of a Russian captain, an Estonian, four Ukrainians and eight Burmese -- on May 28 in the Gulf of Aden.

The crew are all "well," Lehmann said. "We are very pleased that the crew came through this ordeal."

He would not comment on whether a ransom was paid, and it was not immediately clear when the ship and crew were released.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, has become a treacherous stretch for ships, particularly along the Somali coast.

On April 4, suspected Somali pirates seized a French luxury yacht and held its crew of 30 for a week until getting a $2 million ransom. Later that month, pirates released a Spanish fishing boat after being paid a reported $1.2 million ransom.

The International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crime, said in April that 49 pirate attacks on ships were reported in the first three months of 2008, compared with 41 for the same period last year. It recorded 263 pirates attacks last year, up from 239 the year before and the first increase in three years.

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