Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship.
By Andrew Donaldson, Published September 28, 2008.
A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.
Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.
Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”
The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.
The drama over the Iran Deyanat comes as speculation grew this week about whether the South African Navy would send a vessel to join the growing multinational force in the region.
A naval spokesman, Lieutenant-Commander Greyling van den Berg, told the Sunday Times that the navy had not been ordered by the government to become involved in “the Somali pirate issue”.
Read more here: The Times dot C O dot Z A
Compare the above story to this one:
Somalia’s pirates seize 33 tanks
A Ukrainian ship seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia was carrying 33 tanks and other weapons, the Ukrainian defence minister has confirmed.
Earlier, the country’s foreign ministry said the ship had a crew of 21 and was sailing under a Belize flag to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
There has been a recent surge in piracy off the coast of Somalia.
Russia announced on Friday it would start carrying out regular anti-piracy patrols in the waters off Somalia.
A navy spokesman said a warship had been sent to the area earlier this week to protect Russian citizens and ships.
Somalia has not had an effective national government for 17 years, leading to a collapse of law and order both on land and at sea.
Somali pirates are currently holding more than a dozen hijacked ships in Eyl, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.
Senior UN officials estimate the ransoms pirates earn from hijacking ships exceed $100m (£54m) a year.
Read entire article at News dot B B C dot C O dot U K.
Hat tip to Rigorous Intuition forums.