Somali pirates reduce ransom amount

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New Delhi, Oct 3: The hijackers of the Japanese Vessel MT Stolt Valor that has 18 Indian crewmembers on board have reduced the ransom amount from USD 6 million to USD 2.5 million. Meanwhile, the government is looking helpless on the rescue of the crewmembers on board. On Friday, Oct 1, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has requested for international assistance to rescue hostages on the ship. There is no report of the condition of people on board.

Meanwhile, Seema Goyal -- wife of Captain of the MT Stolt Valor, Prabhat Goyal met AICC general secretary, Rahul Gandhi and has urged the Indian government to help rescue her husband and 17 other Indian sailors. Rahul Gandhi has asuured support for the early release of the hostages.

MT Stolt Valor, carrying 24,000 tonnes consignment of oil products, was hijacked on Tuesday, Sep 16 in the Gulf of Aden near the Somali coast. According to reports, it is currently anchored at a port on the eastern coast of Somalia. Earlier, Defence Minister AK Antony assured that 'serious attempt' is being made to secure release of the Indian sailors onboard.

"Piracy in the high seas is becoming a serious problem and all nations, mainly those in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), are concerned about it," he told reporters.

"The government is in the process of finalising a strategy to meet the increasing threat of piracy in the high seas," he said on the sidelines of a function on Defence Accounts Day. However, he discounted if the government was pursuing any policy of "hot pursuit" as "it has wider implications."

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