Indonesia on Monday said it is negotiating with Somali pirates to release 22 Indonesian sailors who were taken hostage during an attack last month.
Djoko Suyanto, Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs, told Antara news agency that the Indonesian government has been working to coordinate the release of the hostages after the MV Sinar Kudus vessel, belonging to PT Samudra Indonesia, was hijacked on March 16.
High ranking officials held a meeting presided by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss the situation, concluding that the government would continue to monitor the situation.
According to Suyanto, PT Samudra Indonesia has promised to meet the pirates demand, but it is still looking to guarantee the safe and guaranteed release of the vessel’s crew.
Initial reports indicate that the first ransom demand was worth about $9 million, as the Somali pirates declined an offer of $2.5 million. PT Samudra Indonesia then reportedly offered $6 million before reducing it again to $3.5 million.
Government officials, as well as personnel from PT Samudra Indonesia, have contacted other international companies that have experienced similar situations to understand the nature of Somali pirates as they continue to carry out negotiations.
In recent years, Somali pirates have hijacked hundreds of ships, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom, but hostages are usually treated well and released in healthy conditions after a ransom is paid. Ships are patrolling the shipping lanes near Somalia in an effort to reduce hijackings, but the anti-piracy force has warned that attacks are likely to continue.
According to a recent study, maritime piracy cost the global economy up to $12 billion last year, with Somalia-based pirates responsible for 95 percent of the costs.