"We are not pirates and we are not after any financial gain as people are claiming," Mohamed Abdi Hassan, the leader of the group, told Reuters by telephone from Harardheere, 70 miles (113 km) from where his men were holding the ship at anchor."[G]uarding the seas against illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste..." I like that. However, I don't believe it...
The ship was captured a week ago en route to the northern port of Bossaso. Its owner said the gunmen were demanding $500,000 to free the 10-man crew -- a Sri Lankan captain, a Tanzanian engineer and eight Kenyans.
WFP on Monday suspended aid shipments to Somalia until the MV Semlov vessel was released.
Hassan, whose identity was confirmed by a minister in Somalia's new government, said his militia was simply guarding the seas against illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste.
"We normally request all ships that pass in our waters to identify themselves. The ship in question had no name or anything and when we asked them to substantiate their claim of carrying relief food they had no papers or any proof whatsoever. That's when we became suspicious and impounded the ship."
WFP, however, immediately denied that.
"The food was clearly marked 'WFP' and stamped with our logo," spokeswoman Rene McGuffin said.
WFP also showed Reuters documents it said were photocopies of papers on board proving the ship was carrying relief food.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Well, Reuters allows the people who seized the WFP ship some room to spin: