16 November 2005

Kenya: Keep News On Hijacked Ships Private, Says UN

Nairobi — Information on ships and crews who are detained by pirates in Somalia should not be made public, the United Nations has warned.

The coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, Mr Andrew Mwangura, who has been negotiating the release of the ships and their crew said: "The UN wants that the authorities to be contacted in the hijacking saga are the ships' owners or the embassies of countries concerned."

Currently, there are four ships held by the pirates, including Kenya's Mv Torgelow, which has a crew of 10. Others are Mv San Carlo and Mv Panagia.

The UN warning is seen as aimed at seeking a secretive way of handling negotiations to free the ships and their crew.

The global organisation is also believed to be gathering information on the movement and operations of the pirates for possible action.

The owners of Mv Torgelow, Motaku Shipping Agencies, said yesterday their crew and ship were still under the pirates and that no headway had been made for their release.

"We just know that negotiations are still going on. The cargo owner is still negotiating with the pirates and we hope the release will come soon," said Mr Karim Kudrati.

The vessel is held at Eyle, 100 nautical miles north of the northern town of Haradhere and it is understood the pirates are demanding a ransom.

"The cargo owner, a Somali businessman, is handling the issue. He is expected to sort out the ransom issue for the ship to be released," he said.

The ship was hijacked at Marka on her way to deliver supplies to Mv Semlow, which was experiencing mechanical problems upon release, following three months in captivity.

Some of those held on Mv Torgelow are its Sri Lankan Captain, Mr De Silva Eckman and Kenyans Nassir Abdalla Musa (Chief Officer) George Mutiokoh (Chief Engineer), Suleiman Maksudi (Bosun) and Pius Khayeka (able-bodied seaman and general purpose).

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