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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

4 Arrests in latest Somali pirate case

Reported here:
Somali authorities have arrested four suspects in the hijacking of a U.N.-chartered cargo ship delivering food aid, the U.N. said Tuesday. The MV Rozen, however, was still under the control of four pirates who remained aboard with 12 crew members as hostage, said the U.N's food agency.

The ship had been contracted to deliver aid to Somalia, where around 1 million people are suffering from a drought that hit the region last year. It had just delivered 1,800 metric tons of food when it was seized.

The suspected pirates were arrested after they went ashore to buy supplies, Peter Goossens, the head of the U.N.'s World Food Program in Somalia, said in a statement.

"The arrest is welcome news, but the safe release of the crew and the vessel remains our chief concern," Goossens said. "We very much hope this ordeal will finish soon."

The pirates are armed with AK-47 assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program, an independent group that monitors piracy in the region.
Earlier report of U.S. warship heading to area here:
A U.S. warship yesterday moved into waters off the coast of Somalia, where pirates have hijacked an empty World Food Program cargo ship.
Officials of the internationally backed interim Somali government said they contacted the U.S. military regional command, based in neighboring Djibouti, to request assistance.
"We have asked the U.S. Navy in the Red Sea ... to help us in the operation, and they told us they have started to move toward the ship," Col. Abdi Ali Hagaafe, police chief of the Bari region, told the Associated Press yesterday.
He said Somali police boats had spotted the hijacked ship, but were told to hang back out of concern for the safety of the ship's crew.
And an earlier indication that Puntland might use force here.

UPDATE: Sorta. Here.

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