Faina crew attempt to escape

December 9, 2008 12:00 am

, MOGADISHU, December 9 – Crew members on an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo ship held by Somali pirates attempted to overpower two of their captors, prompting the hijackers to threaten to punish the men Tuesday.

Speaking to AFP from the MV Faina cargo they hijacked on September 25 and have held off the coast of Somalia ever since, a spokesman for the pirates said the incident took place late Monday.

"Some crew members on the Ukrainian ship are misbehaving. They tried to harm two of our gunmen late Monday," said the pirate, who declined to give his name.

"This is unacceptable, they risk serious punitive measures. Somalis know how to live and how to die at the same time, but the Ukrainians’ attempt to take violent action is misguided," the spokesman added.

He said two of the pirates were taken by surprise when a group of crew members attacked them.

"Maybe some of the crew are frustrated and we are feeling the same but our boys never opted for violence, this was a provocation," the pirate spkesman explained.

More than 120 attacks by Somali pirates have been reported this year alone in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean but all the hijackings have so far been resolved peacefully through the payment of ransoms.

At least 16 ships and more than 300 crew are currently being held.

The MV Faina is carrying 33 battle tanks and other weaponry and was headed to the Kenyan port of Mombasa when it was seized by pirates two and half months ago.

The pirates have lowered their ransom demand to 3.5 million dollars and told AFP late last month that an agreement had already been reached for the ship’s release.

In recent days, some sources have reported frustration among the pirates over delays in the ransom payment.


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