Somali gov't confiscates pirate ransom, arrests foreigners in Mogadishu airport

08:59, May 25, 2011      

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The Somali government security forces on Tuesday seized almost 3.5 million U.S. dollars and arrested a number of foreigners at Mogadishu airport as they tried to transfer the money meant to pirates in the centre of the country, an official said.

Two small planes carrying the money and foreigners of different nationalities landed at the main airport in the capital Mogadishu and the Somali security forces impounded the planes and the cash it carried detaining the crew and passengers on the aircraft, said a Somali security official who sought anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the incident.

It was not immediately clear where the planes came and what the nationalities of those arrested were but the authorities still remain tight-lipped on the raid.

However, reports say that the detained included some of American, British and Kenyan nationalities.

The Somali government has always been opposed to the paying of ransom payouts to local pirates who mostly operate in central and eastern parts of the war-ravaged country.

Somali government officials maintain that the millions of dollars given to pirates only fuel the menace and called on international community to help its forces deal with pirate problem on land.

Pirate gangs have been wrecking havoc on international shipping along the Indian Ocean on the Somali coast and the Gulf of Aden to the north of the country. The waterway is one of the most important routes for international commercial shipping.

Pirates have received millions of dollars in ransom payout to free hijacked ships that have often been seized in international waters off Somalia.

Dozens of ships and hundreds of hostages still remain in pirates' hands who demand hefty ransom payouts for their release. Ransom payouts have previously mainly been paid through middlemen and sometimes by helicopter dropping on the hijacked ships.

Source: Xinhua
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