'Unidentified' warship captures 14 Somali pirates

The hijackings have become commonplace especially in Puntland.

'Unidentified' warship captures 14 Somali pirates

A warship off pirate-ridden Somali waters captured 14 pirates and destroyed their boat, the fisheries minister for the northern Puntland region said on Sunday.

"About 14 pirates came across a warship that we think could be American and all the pirates on board were captured and their boat destroyed," said Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, the fisheries minister for the semi-autonomous region.

"We are still investigating the identity of the warship."

Two French nationals were seized in their yacht in the perilous waters on Tuesday and the French navy has said it is ready to try to free them although their safety came first.

In April, French commandos launched a helicopter raid to arrest six Somali pirates after they freed the 30-strong crew of a luxury yacht they had hijacked days earlier.

The two captives were safe in a hilly village 750 km (466 miles) east of Bosasso, Puntland's capital, a man who said he was the pirates' servant told Reuters on Sunday.

"The French tourists whose boat was also hijacked are now held inside the hilly areas of Habo village. They are safe and healthy," Abdinur Farah told Reuters from the deck of a seized Iranian ship.

Ransoms

He said the Iranian ship with 28 crew members including two Russians, two Pakistanis and a Syrian would soon be freed once the $2 million ransom agreed upon was paid.

"The bargain about the ransom is over and pirates are just waiting for the money," he said.

"Puntland requested the pirates two weeks ago to hand over this Iranian ship saying that it is carrying weapons to Eritrea. I have seen food and other odd items on the ship but I do not know what is hidden underneath."

Somali gunmen are holding more than 10 ships for ransom at Eyl, a lawless former fishing outpost now used by gangs behind a sharp rise in sea attacks.

The hijackings have become commonplace especially in Puntland. However, pirates often treat hostages well in the hope of hefty ransoms. Most captured ships bring ransoms of more than $10,000, and in a few cases much more.

The gunmen in Eyl are also demanding a ransom of more than $9 million to free two Malaysian tankers, a Japanese-managed bulk carrier and a Nigerian tug boat held captive.

The pirates are currently holding over 130 crew members.

Attacks at sea have boomed as lawlessness increased in Somalia, where there has not been a working government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 07 Eylül 2008, 18:11
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