Somali piracy update
By IBI Magazine/Michael Howorth
New evidence in from Somalia makes it clear that the yacht attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on December 17 managed to evade capture and has arrived safely at the port of Salalah in Oman.
Speaking exclusively to IBI, Andrew Mwangura, who works for the Kenya-based East African Seafarers Assistance programme, told us that the yacht was carrying Yemeni coastguard officers who had been contracted on board as ship-riders. It was they who opened fire on an approaching skiff after radio-warnings transmitted by the yacht were not adhered to and the skiff continued to maintain a collision course even after the yacht had made several course adjustments.
The skiff eventually turned away after several shots were fired and did not return. The yacht was then able to disembark the guards at a Yemen border-port before proceeding undisturbed to her final destination. We are still not able to confirm with accuracy the name, size or nationality of the yacht, nor do we know how many crew were on board at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, Mwangura tells us that negotiations for the release of several cargo ship crews taken hostage in the Gulf of Aden continue with debates on how the ransoms will be delivered. "There are two methods which have been approved by the pirates," he said. "The gunmen are demanding the money be dropped by air from a helicopter or plane in a balloon that will not sink, or for the ransom to be delivered by ship." Mwangura believes that delivery from the air is the most likely of methods to be used.
(5 January 2009)