11/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Somali Pirates Near $8 Million Deal, Questions Still Surround Cargo

NAIROBI, Kenya -- There were mixed signals on Wednesday about the progress of the ransom negotiations for the arms-laden Ukrainian freighter that Somali pirates hijacked nearly two weeks ago.

Business associates of the pirates said that a deal to pay the pirates millions of dollars was close and that the freighter would be freed.

"The pirates and the shipowners have agreed on around $8 million," said Ahmed Omar, a businessman in Xarardheere, the notorious pirate den near the location where the hijacked ship is anchored. "The ship may be freed today or tomorrow."

Maritime officials in Kenya were a bit more cautious, saying crucial details had yet to be worked out. For starters, the pirates were asking for guarantees that they would not be captured after releasing the freighter or blown out of the water by the armada of American warships circling them.

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