Authorities in Somalia’s autonomous Puntland region arrested four men Feb. 27 in connection with the Feb. 25 hijacking of a ship delivering relief food. But four other hijackers are still holding the ship and 12-member crew. World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson Stephanie Savariaud says the men were arrested when they went ashore to get supplies. Gunmen seized the MV Rozen in the waters off the northern coast of Somalia shortly after the ship unloaded 1,800 tons of food aid at two ports. The Kenyan-owned ship, contracted by the WFP to deliver food aid, was sailing back to Kenya when the incident occurred. The pirates anchored the MV Rozen in the waters near the town of Bargal. Media reports indicate that Puntland authorities are negotiating with the pirates.
The London-based International Maritime Bureau said in a January report that it feared a rise in piracy incidents with the departure of the Islamic Courts Union, which had control over the capital Mogadishu and much of Somalia’s south for before being ousted late last year by the Somali transitional government backed by Ethiopian troops. The Maritime Bureau told VOA that piracy had been virtually wiped out under the Islamic Courts Union, and will now likely re-surface.
By the end of November 2005, there had been at least 28 piracy incidents occurring in the waters off the coast of Somalia, considered to be among the most dangerous in the world. (VOA, Feb. 27)