MOMBASA, Kenya, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Families of the 46 Kenyan crew currently hijacked by pirates received shocking revelations that the pirates seizing one of the vessels, GoldenWave, could be having links with Somali terrorist group Al-Shaabab.|
During a meeting in Mombasa on Thursday to update them over the progress of their kin, which was attended by human rights lobby groups, maritime experts and the relatives, it was revealed that the pirates demanded a ransom of 52.5 million U. S. dollars plus other charges.
The South Korean fishing vessel, flying a Kenyan flag, goes down as the one with the largest number of Kenyan crew ever hijacked of 39, with two other vessels having six Kenyans and another, a female crew.
Seafarers Assistance Program Coordinator Andrew Mwangura said unconfirmed reports had indicated that the pirates could be linking up with Al-Shabaab, after it was claimed that the pirates, whose other group have hijacked a Kenyan woman on board another vessel, Al-Jusika, was seen in Mogadishu after meeting the terror group.
The vessel was hijacked on Oct. 18, with the family members now asking the government to ensure the safety of the crew and the agents to ensure they are paid under the agreed terms.
Mwangura said the situation may be grave since reports from the agents have also indicated that the Korean company which owns the ship has gone bankrupt and cannot get government guarantors to secure its release. "We have also been informed that the Korea and Chinese whose crew is also in the vessel, have asked the Kenyan government to take charge since Kenyans are the majority in the vessel,"Mwangura said.
The captain and chief engineer of the vessel are not in good health since the former has diabetes and has run out of drugs while the other is aged.
Mwangura said negotiators had been found and have demanded 1, 250 U.S. dollars to strike a deal for the release of the crew. However, the agent of the ship claims the value of the goods that were ferried cost only 2,500 dollars. "The vessel is old and unseaworthy and will not even get a buyer if it is auctioned," he said.
He said currently, there are 18 pirates groups as opposed to the 7 that had existed and which are funded by 51 donors, which means territorial boundaries for the groups are now not limited.
The official added that if claims that the pirates have links with Al-Shabaab are true, negotiations would be difficult as it would require a diplomat to engage in the process. "If that is the case, we cannot do anything, a license has to be sought from the government in order to even comment over the matter, this may now fall under diplomacy matters," Mwangura said.
In the meeting, it was claimed the negotiators are already in Nairobi and waiting for parties to agree over the 1,250 dollars payment before they embark on their work.
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