Three Somali pirates of the Somalia Youth Coast Guard (Al-Shabaab aka Mujahideen Youth Movement) have died in a shootout following the differences over what to do with the seized Ukrainian ship with crew members, arms and tanks aboard, a regional maritime official confirmed on Tuesday.
Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa's Seafarers Assistance Program said the three died on Monday night as they were guarding the MV Faina over the misunderstanding on whether to release the arms cargo that included 33 T-72 tanks and 20 crew members.
"A misunderstanding erupted between the moderate and radical pirates aboard the ship prompting a shootout that left three of them dead," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone. "The moderates want to give in but the radicals don't want this to happen. The U.S. naval ships are very close and there is panic among the pirates," said Mwangura
Andrew Mwangura, program coordinator for the Seafarers’ Assistance Program in Kenya, which tracks pirate attacks, called the Ukrainian ship “a tricky vessel.” He said, “The tanks were for Sudan, and the Kenya government doesn’t want to admit it because of the embargo.”
The first news reports on Friday regarding the hijacked ship said the arms were headed for south Sudan, which is an autonomous region of Sudan that fought a long separatist war against the northern Sudanese government.
There are currently American sanctions and a United Nations arms embargo against Sudan, though American officials said that the application of these sanctions was complicated and that it might not be illegal for Kenya to provide tanks to south Sudan. United Nations officials said that in the past few years several large arms shipments have passed through Kenya en route to south Sudan. Often, the weapons are moved across the border at night.
Mr. Mwangura was among the first maritime officials last week to disclose that the hijacked cargo ship was crammed with weapons. He said his organization monitors shipping in the Indian Ocean and has contacts around the world. He said the weapons aboard the ship included ammunition made from depleted uranium, which is dangerous to handle and typically used to pierce armor.
"The American destroyer USS Howard is still waiting for reinforcement from Russia but has surrounded the Somali pirates," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone. But one of the pirates said they were not afraid and had enough food to withstand a siege. Maritime experts said the ship was carrying "dangerous chemicals" and warned against using force.
Radio France International said Monday it had spoken, apparently by mobile phone, with a pirate aboard the Faina, who said at least three warships were near the hijacked ship. "Ships and troops have surrounded us," said a man identified by RFI as pirate Sugule Ali. He spoke in Somali. "There's a lot of unusual movement surrounding us and planes are flying overhead. I warn anyone who might be tempted by any military operation or use of force, if we're attacked, we'll defend ourselves, until the last one of us dies."
There were reports that at least 100 pirates from the dreaded Somalia Youth Coast Guard (Al-Shabaab aka Mujahideen Youth Movement) were in control of the Faina, which is sailing under a Belize flag. Al-Shabaab in Somalia is Al-Qaeda. The Al-Shabaab official website is hosted in the USA at the Dotster Web Hosting Co; DOTSTER INC 8100 NE Parkway Dr #300 Vancouver, WA 98662, E-Mail: abuse@mailto:dotster.com ..... Complaints firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 1-360-449-5985
Faina is owned and operated by Kaalbye Shipping Ukraine, and its crew includes citizens of Ukraine, Russia and Latvia.