Sunday, May 10, 2009

Somalia News Update: Pirates Receive $2 Million for British-owned Ship; 10 Killed in Fighting

Somali pirates receive $2 million for British-owned ship

Sun May 10, 2009 11:24am BST

BOSASSO, Somalia (Reuters) - Somali pirates said on Sunday they had received a $2-million (1.3-million pound) ransom for the release of a British-owned vessel and its 16 Bulgarian crew.

Pirate attacks, fuelled by large ransoms, have continued almost unabated despite the presence of an armada of foreign warships patrolling the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.

"We got a $2 million ransom for the release of the British-owned ship," pirate Mohamed Saleh, from the Somali coastal village of Eyl, told Reuters on Sunday.

"A helicopter brought the money."

The 32,000-tonne bulker, Malaspina Castle, was released on Saturday after being captured more than a month ago. Its Italian operator paid the ransom, according to Bulgaria's Foreign Ministry, which gave no details on the amount.

Analysts say the only way to stop bandits on the high seas is to resolve Somalia's political crisis on land where pirates profit from lawlessness as Islamist-led rebels fight government troops and African Union peacekeepers.

(Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Jon Hemming)

10 killed in Somalia fighting, dozens wounded

International AP News 2009-05-10 18:16

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Rival Islamist groups clashed in Somalia's capital Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens in renewed fighting in the seaside city, witnesses and hospital officials said.

The fighting is the latest in days of increasing violence in Mogadishu. Abdinasir Ali, a resident of the capital, said he saw six bodies from the same family Sunday morning. They were killed when a mortar shell hit their house.

Four others were killed in a nearby house and a tea shop, witnesses said.

Medina hospital official Dahir Mohamed Mohamud said 60 people have been admitted this weekend.

The fighting pitted pro-government Islamist militias against those allied to al-Shabab, an insurgent group that wants to topple the Western-backed government.

Somalia, an impoverished country in the Horn of Africa, has been in chaos since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Rival clans then turned on each other. In recent years, piracy has exploded off the lawless coast.

The U.S. worries that Somalia could be a terrorist breeding ground, particularly since Osama bin Laden declared his support for al-Shabab. It accuses al-Shabab of harboring the al-Qaida-linked terrorists who allegedly blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.

At a conference last month in Brussels, President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed pledged to do "everything imaginable" to stabilize Somalia.

Ahmed, elected by parliament in January, is a former fighter with the Islamic insurgency. He has been trying to broker peace with warring groups and gain legitimacy, but his administration wields little control outside Mogadishu, and needs help from African peacekeepers to do even that.

Fighters opposed to his government see the 4,350 AU peacekeepers as "foreign invaders" and obstacles to peace.

(By SALAD DUHUL/Associated Press Writer)

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