Pirates who seized a ship loaded with food destined for hungry Somalis are now interested in its cargo of rice instead of the ransom they earlier demanded, the vessel's shipping agent said on Tuesday.Food is power in a starving nation.
Seaborne Somalia militiamen hijacked the MV Semlow last month as it steamed toward the northern port of Bossaso carrying 850 tonnes of rice donated by Japan and Germany to the U.N.'s World Food Programme.
The food was to help thousands of Somalis hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean after an undersea earthquake off north Indonesia.
The pirates initially demanded $500,000 ransom for the eight Kenyan crewmembers, Sri Lankan captain and Tanzanian engineer.
But they have now changed their mind, said Karim Kudrati, a director of the Motaku Shipping Agency which chartered the MV Semlow.
"They first demanded ransom but now they want the food," Kudrati told Reuters by phone from the company's offices in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
"I don't think they can now offload the consignment because the vessel is still at sea and the weather is not good."
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
According to this, the Somali pirates who seized the World Food Program ship SEMLOW now want the cargo and not the ransom previously demanded: