Somalia coast pirates steal WFP boats

Published on Monday 24th March 2008

Mogadishu, (Somalia), March 24: Pirates stole two World Food Programme boats that were anchored in southern Somali port town of Merca, officials said on Monday.


"The two fiberglass boats were stolen at midnight (Sunday) and we don't exactly know who took them. They were used to train our staff members for emergency cases," a local WFP staffer told AFP. "None of our staff members was there at the time so they took the boats alone," from Merca, about 100 kilometres (63 miles) south of the lawless capital Mogadishu, AFP report said. Merca deputy police chief Nuriye Ali Farah confirmed the boats had been stolen, and recovered one that had crashed nearby. "We arrested five suspected pirates and found one of the boats crashed near the coast of Jazeera in the outskirt of Mogadishu, but we are still tracking the other boat," he added. WFP-chartered vessels have in the past been targeted by pirates operating in Somali waters ostensibly to demand ransom. Numerous attacks have taken place off Somalia's 3 700-kilometre (2 300-mile) coastline, prompting the International Maritime Bureau to advise sailors to steer clear. Somalia lies at the mouth of the Red Sea on a major trade route between Asia and Europe via the Suez Canal. It has not had a functional government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.