(Somalilandpress) The chairman of the Somaliland chamber of commerce and industries  Mohamed Shugria Abdi accompanied by a group of prominent local businessmen held a press conference today in Hargeisa. Mr. Abdi confirmed the release of MV LEILA ship and its crew of 27 has been freed after a hefty ransom of $300,000 was paid to their captors. In February, pirates from Puntland region hijacked the Panama-flagged MV Leila near Oman with its entire cargo of goods and cars and sailed it to Somaliland.

Mr. Mohamed speaking to press at the headquarters of the chamber of commerce, said “the MV LEILA and its crew of 27 are now free and that they are expected to dock in Berbera Port in the next few days” they were freed after religious leaders from Puntland and Galmudug brokered a deal for the release of the ship and its cargo after nine weeks in captivity.

The chairman condemned the Puntland administration for been reluctant in intervening in hijacking and for doing nothing at all to free the crew or the ship, to make matters worse he also said for falling to protect the cargo on board the ship which was vandalized under their nose.

On the other hand said the chairman we want to send our condolences to families of those lost their loved ones during the confrontation with the pirates, we are deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives.

We also express our profound gratitude to the people of Galmudug state for their show of solidarity, their courageousness in fending off the pirates as they tried to use their territorial water as a platform for holding the ship and the crew. In recent months pirates’ activities have increased off the shores of Puntland targeting local and international ships. The costs of delivering necessary commodities and good to regions in Somaliland have increased.