Friday, September 26, 2008

Somali Pirates Grab Ukrainain Ship Loaded with 30 Russian Tanks

Via Reuters -

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somali pirates have seized a Ukrainian ship carrying more than 30 tanks to Kenya and Russia said on Friday it was sending a warship to combat piracy in the region.

The U.N. World Food Program said Canada had extended its naval escorts of food aid shipments for another month.

Pirates have captured more than 30 vessels off Somalia this year, making its waters the most dangerous in the world and threatening a globally important shipping lane between Europe and Asia. The gangs seek, and often receive, large ransoms.

The Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Program said the Ukrainian ship, sailing under a Belize flag, was seized on Thursday.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuri Yekhanurov, quoted by the news agency Interfax Ukraine, said its cargo included 33 T-72 tanks being sold to Kenya under a legal contract.

He told reporters in Kiev that the cargo included grenade launchers and ammunition.

"All this is being sold in full accordance with Ukrainian legislation," Yekhanurov was quoted as saying.

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua confirmed that the military equipment was destined for Kenya.


In the wake of this news, Russia has dispatched a warship to the area to assist in anti-piracy efforts (and to hopefully rescue the 21 crew members aboard the Ukrainian ship - three of which are Russian).

Several nations run patorals off the Somali coast. Just recently the US Navy fired warning shots at two small approaching boats and chased them away - most likely pirates.

On the lighter side, French officials have filed preliminary charges against six suspected Somali pirates accused of taking two French citizens captive off the coast of East Africa this month.

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