Somali gov’t expresses gratitude for international involvement in fight against pirates

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The Somali transitional government has welcomed the presence of foreign warships guarding the country’s pirate-infested waters, Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein said.

The foreign warships are guarding the country’s coast, where a number of cargo ships and their crew are being held hostage by Somali pirates who have demanded a ransom for their release.

Speaking on Sunday in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, where he addressed the press, Hussein said the foreign military vessels, which include Russian and US battleships, are welcome to fight the rampant piracy in the Horn of Africa coast.

”Our permission has been granted because they are responding to our request to the United Nations to help us deal with the menace,” said the minister.

He said he was aware that some Somali officials expressed concerns that some of the warships may be involved in illegal activities, but added that “the issue be dealt with separately”.

On Saturday, Deputy Speaker of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament, Omar Dalha, said in Nairobi, Kenya, that the foreign warships “could be involved in illegal fishing” in Somalia’s waters, calling on them to “seek a permission from the government before fighting pirates off the coast of Somalia”.

NATO, along with Russia and other countries, this week sent seven warships to Somali territorial waters to fight increasing piracy in the Horn of Africa coast, one of the most dangerous waterways in the world.

The hijacking last month of a Ukrainian ship carrying a controversial cargo of military hardware, along with other ships already held in the Somalia coast, raised international concerns about the safety of the waterway close to the country, which has no air or naval forces to fight the escalating piracy activities.

The hijacking of the Ukranian ship, whose cargo include tanks, has put Kenya in an awkward as the ship was headed for the Kenyan port of Mombassa.

Kenya insists that the weapons were meant for its Armed forces, while US naval sources said the hardware was headed for the semi-autonomous Southern Sudan.

Analysts said if indeed the armaments were headed for Southern Sudan, then Kenya would have breached the UN arms embargo on Sudan.

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