Pirates off the coast of Somalia who have been holding a hijacked ship for nearly two years killed a Syrian hostage crew member and wounded another to protest delayed ransom payment, a pirate leader said.
This is believed to be the first time Somalian pirates have killed a hostage because of a delay in ransom.
Hassan Abdi, a pirate commander in Haradhere town, a key pirate center, said on Friday that the killing on Wednesday was a message to the owners of the ship MV Orna that was hijacked off the Seychelles in 2010.
“The killing was a message to the owners of the ship who paid no heed to our ransom demands,” Abdi said by telephone.
“More killings will follow if they continue to lie to us — we have lost patience with them. Two years is enough,” he said angrily.
The MV Orna is a Panama-flagged, bulk cargo vessel owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates.
The pirates operating along the Somalian coastline of the Indian Ocean were once believed to be disgruntled and financially motivated Somalian fishermen, angry that international trawlers were illegally fishing in Somalia’s waters, but now criminal gangs are dominating the piracy trade and they have become increasingly violent as international navies attempt to crack down on their activities.
Somalian pirates hijacked the MV Orna after firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at the ship in December 2010, when it was about 640km northeast of the island nation of the Seychelles.
In May last year, an undisclosed number of pirates and hostages were forced to abandon the vessel after a fire broke out, Abdi said. It is believed the fire was caused by an electrical problem in the ship’s kitchen, he said.
The EU Naval Force patrolling the Indian Ocean waters has not heard about the killing, spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Jacqueline Sherriff said.
Since, 2008, the EU has maintained a flotilla consisting of between five and 10 warships off the Horn of Africa to fight piracy. It is part of a larger international fleet that includes US, NATO, Russian and other warships. The EU task force also includes non-EU countries, such as Norway, Croatia, Montenegro and Ukraine.