Somalia jails foreigners over 'pirate ransom'

Six people sentenced for bringing millions of dollars into the country, allegedly intended for payment of ransoms.

     Simon Jones of Trinton International said it was unclear what message the Somali government was sending with the arrests and jail sentences [Al Jazeera]

    Somalia has jailed six foreigners for bringing millions of dollars into the country allegedly intended for pirate ransom.

    The men from Britain, the US and Kenya were arrested in the capital, Mogadishu, last month after they landed at the airport. They were given jail sentences of 10 to 15 years and fines of up to $15,000.

    While the Somali government opposes the payment of ransoms, the practice has become common. The UN says more than $110m was paid in ransom to Somali pirates last year.  

    Just last week, pirates freed a German-owned cargo ship after they received  $5.7m.

    "The German cargo ship has now sailed away. We have taken $5.7m in ransom," pirate Ibrahim told the Reuters news agency by phone from coastal Ras Guna. 

    At least 24 ships and their crew are believed to be being held for ransom at various points along the Somali coast.

    Somali pirates have recently increased their attacks in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, hijacking numerous commercial vessels.

    According to the UN International Maritime Organisation, the attacks have grown in sophistication and range.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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