NAIROBI, October 3 – Somali pirates holding a Ukrainian ship loaded with military hardware now say they have made progress in negotiations with the ship’s owners.
One of the pirates aboard MV Faina told the AFP news agency by phone that they had made contact with the vessel’s owners.
"I can’t tell you when the issue will be resolved but the discussions are certainly encouraging. The crew members and the Somali men on the ship are safe and in good health " said the pirate, who did not want to give his name.
The buccaneers have demanded a Sh1.5 billion ransom be paid for the release of the MV Faina, which they seized on September 25.
The destination of the military hardware has sparked international controversy with some quarters insinuating that the cargo was meant for the South Sudan government.
The Kenyan government on Thursday maintained that the shipment was meant for its military.
In a terse statement during his weekly press briefing, the spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua said that the issue was clear, and that even the Sudanese Government had denied ordering any military arms.
“The shippers and sellers of the arms have stated that the cargo was for the Kenya Ministry of Defence and we have already availed documents verifying this. I don’t why some people are making this an issue!” Dr Mutua exclaimed.
He said the government was actively monitoring the situation of the hijacked ship and was continuing to work closely with security partners in this endeavour.
Dr Mutua further said that the coordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme Andrew Mwangura was arrested over his comments on the hijacked ship and would be released once police were satisfied that he was not involved with the Somalia pirates, who seized the Ukraine ship.
Meanwhile, the European Union said it was planning to launch an anti-piracy unit to secure the coast off Somalia.
German Ambassador to Kenya Walter Lindner said on Friday that the international community must move in and secure the coastline fast.
“The EU might send a force in December but this is being discussed in Brussels. I have not heard anyone who has kind words about those pirates so what are we waiting for?” he asked.
“We have had victims from all over the world and everyone is fed up with these pirates who are terrorising the world’s economy,” Mr Lindner added.
He said the hijacking of MV Faina had highlighted the danger shipping faces in that area.
“I think the hijacking of this weapons ship is a wake up call to the international community. Do we wait until they hijack a ship with nuclear material?” he posed.