Somali pirates holding a Ukrainian ship seized exactly two months ago with a cargo of combat tanks and other weaponry said on Tuesday they had lowered their ransom demand to US$3 million (HK$23.4 million).

``We are demanding three million dollars to release the MV Faina,`` said Sugule Ali, the spokesman of the group of pirates that hijacked the ship on September 25.

``We are running out of time, waiting for an outcome to these protracted negotiations. The owners should immediately take this opportunity to recover their property,`` said Ali, reached by phone on the MV Faina.

The Ukrainian ship - headed for Kenya when it was seized - was carrying 33 Soviet-type battle tanks, anti-air systems, rocket launchers and ammunition.

AFP via The Standard