NAIROBI, October 23 – Pirates holding a Ukrainian ship off the coast of Somalia were adamant on Thursday that they would not release the vessel or its precious military cargo until they were paid ransom.
Local maritime official Andrew Mwangura told Capital News that he had spoken to the pirates’ Spokesman Ali Sugule who maintained their demand for Sh700 million.
“The pirates are still waiting for ransom to be paid before they free the freighter,” said the coordinator of the Mombasa-based Seafarers Association, adding that the buccaneers had vowed to hold the ship for as long as it takes.
“They are not worried at all. They are comfortable and ready to wait. The worry was all about insufficient fuel in the ship but it has since been re-fuelled,” he said without giving details of who supplied the pirates with fuel.
Mwangura who was recently arrested and charged for publishing alarming statements and possessing bhang said the pirates are in constant touch with security forces in foreign naval ships shadowing the Faina and had even assured them of the security of the ship’s crew.
“They (foreign forces) have seen them and assured that they are fine,” he said, adding that the captain’s body remained in the cold locker since his death soon after last month’s hijacking.
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula has on several occasions warned that the government was not, in any way, willing to negotiate with the pirates to release the naval ship that is carrying military tanks, guns and ammunitions.
He emphasised on the need to use extreme force to recover the hijacked ship that has been on the hands of Somali pirates since September 25.
“There is no need to engage in negotiations with these criminals. They will adopt a culture of impunity,’ he said at a recent press conference in Nairobi and warned against paying any form of ransom to the pirates.
Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua told the press on Thursday that plans were still underway to raid the vessel.
In his weekly briefing government spokesman Alfred Mutua said the top priority of the mission is the lives of the crew on board.
“The fact that the pirates have not been attacked is because there are a number of things that are been evaluated.” He said, adding that different foreign troops had surrounded the ship.
Dr Mutua further confirmed that Kenyan ambassador to Sudan had recorded a statement with security officials in Khartoum over allegations that the cargo was destined for the south of that country.
“He was never summoned by the Foreign Ministry there but was invited to meet members of the Sudanese intelligence who wanted him to clarify on media reports on the ship” he said.
Kenya has insisted that the military cargo in the ship belongs to its military although there has contradicting reports that this could have destined for Southern Sudan.