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Sunday, May 13, 2007

What's it like to be...Captured by Somali Pirates

Reported here, a Sri Lankan captured by Somali pirates lives to tell the tale. The "Portland" referred to in the piece is more likely "Puntland," commonly referred to as "a semi-autonomous" area of Somalia.
According to Mr. Ranasinghe, in the midst of the firing the pirates forced them to steer the ship away to an area that didn’t come under the purview of the Portland coast guards. He said the pirates then grabbed their communication equipment and ordered them not to go to certain parts of the vessel.

“They did not physically harass us but the Kenyans were harassed. However they took the captain’s money and some other belongings. They also said we would be allowed to go back but not the Kenyans. The crew had shared whatever food stocks they had with their captors too. But towards the end of their captivity they were surviving on water and rice.

Mr. Ranasinghe said they hardly slept for fear of being killed by their armed captors. “We tried our best to be friendly with them for our own survival and some of them were quite friendly. We even played cards to remain calm but we could never relax,” he said. He said sometimes during the night the hijackers would for no reason at all fire into the air, just for fun. During the day they would divide themselves in to two groups and fight each other. He said one day the pirates brought aboard two tribal leaders to settle a dispute among them.

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