MOGADISHU, Somalia, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Pirates who have seized a Ukrainian ship and its crew have threatened to blow up the ship, which is laden with weapons, if they are not paid $8 million.
"We are ready to blast the ship, the cargo and ourselves if the owners refuse to pay us ransom," a representative of the pirates said.
The Faina is loaded with military cargo, including 33 T-72 tanks and other weaponry bound for Kenya. The ship's 17-member crew is being held hostage on the vessel, ITAR-TASS reported Friday.
Last week, the Russian warship Neustrashimy was dispatched to waters off the coast of Somali to respond to the crisis. Two U.S. Navy ships have encircled the Faina to prevent the cargo from being unloaded. The ship was taken over by pirates Sept. 25.
Pirates this year have seized about 60 vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast. A total of 374 foreign sailors were taken hostage in September alone, Risk Intelligence in Copenhagen, Denmark, said.