Somali insurgent group says foreign navies 'part of piracy'

A Somali insurgent group that seized a pirate stronghold has vowed to drive pirates from the area and free hostages, the group's spokesman said on Monday.

Somali insurgent group says foreign navies 'part of piracy'

A Somali insurgent group that seized a pirate stronghold has vowed to drive pirates from the area and free hostages, the group's spokesman said on Monday.

Hizbul Islam insurgents seized the town of Haradheere last week and pledged to take more towns along Somalia's coast, a move that may push the pirates north into the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

"We will do everything in our capacity to eliminate them (the pirates) from this province," Sheikh Mohamed Osman Arus told Reuters from Haradheere.

"We do not have a coast guard to fight pirates at sea, but we want to deny those gangs shelter on land."

Pirates said Hizbul Islam took over Haradheere, at the beginning of May.

Arus said Hizbul Islam would free hostages without a ransom if they could locate then.

"We did not come here to chase away pirates and replace them with more criminal activity. We want to finish their operation on the mainland, and free the hostages they hold," Arus said.

"They cannot enjoy freedom while they are taking away the freedom of others and tarnishing our name."

Arus said Hizbul Islam establishing where pirates were holding Britons Paul and Rachel Chandler, who have been held since their yacht was hijacked in October. "Now, we are trying to ... secure their freedom without a cent."

Pirates are holding about 350 hostages who are believed to have been moved from Haradheere to northern regions.

Arus said foreign navies patrolling Somali waters were part of the piracy problem because they protected trawlers looting Somali fish stocks.

"These warships are not here to crack down on pirates. They are part of interested groups, both foreigners and locals, protecting fishing boats taking our resources."

Pirates have taken millions of dollars in ransoms by seizing vessels and their crews in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. A German-operated chemical tanker and a Taiwanese fishing vessel were hijacked on Saturday.

Piracy is seen continuing unabated unless there is a functioning government in Somalia.

"The best and the only long-term solution is helping install a powerful state on the ground," Afyare Abdi Elmi, a political science professor at Qatar University, told Reuters.

"All the other efforts are short-term fixes which will not address the root cause of the problem."


Reuters

Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2010, 15:23
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