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MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somali pirates have freed a United Arab Emirates-owned cargo ship, a Somali businessman said on Thursday, dismissing suggestions that it had been carrying weapons to the anarchic country.
Ali Dheere, the chairman of Mogadishu's general merchandise traders, said the ship's release had followed negotiations with businessmen in the anarchic country's capital.
However, he refused to comment on whether a ransom had been paid and expressed concern that it might be seized again.
"The negotiation ended last night and the ship was freed today," Dheere told Reuters, but added: "We are afraid pirates will recapture it."
A maritime expert told Reuters last week that he believed the ship is one of the regular weapon carriers to Somalia which is under a United Nations arms embargo. He said it was using the fake name Al Mizan.
However, Dheere said the ship had been laden with commercial non-military goods when it was seized last week.
The ship was held off Garacad, an old port town in central Somalia that is now a base for pirates, and was now heading for Mogadishu, Dheere said.
Despite an unprecedented international naval deployment to deter them, Somali pirates continue marauding in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden waters.
In the latest seizure, the brigands shot the captain of a Virgin Islands'-owned chemical tanker during a hijacking attack. He died of his wounds earlier this week.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh and Abdi Guled; Writing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; Editing by David Stamp)