- Efforts for a peaceful release of crew of Ukrainian ship MV FAINA, hi-jacked off Somali coast in September, have proved futile as captors have today threatened to kill hostages and set vessel on fire if no ransom is paid within next 24 hours.
Media reports show that hostages have been suffering from food shortages with no hope of a likely reprieve soon.
However, this information reportedly spread by Russian and some Ukrainian media could not be confirmed.
A spokesman of Somali captors holding arms-laden ship, which was en-route to Kenya, is said to have noted that vessel's operator wants to negotiate only for release of MV Faina and its 210 crew members, and not its cargo.
Kenyan foreign affairs minister Moses Wetangula has reportedly said government would not pay any ransom, though media reports show that Kenya has claimed 33 tanks and other heavy weapons onboard the ship.
While Somalia is said to be under a weapons-embargo and US-navy promised to avert any off-loading of weapons from MV FAINA, numerous business people seem to be interested to help with ransom by purchasing part of dangerous cargo.
"They want to silence me, it is obvious," said Andrew Mwangura, Kenya chapter chairman of East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.
Mr Mwangura stated that authorities in region were turning a blind eye to illegal fishing, toxic dumping, drug- and gun-running, illegal charcoal shipments, and human trafficking in Somali waters that were all indirectly fuelling lawlessness and piracy.
"All these businesses inter-link. A foreign ship pays a warlord to be allowed to fish illegally off Somalia, and that money then funds at end also piracy," he said.
Mr Mwangura reportedly met Ukrainian member of parliament Nyna Karpachyova, who is also human rights ombudsman, last week, and promised to continue to do his best to achieve humane treatment and fast release of captured seafarers in Somalia.
"Russian warship is scheduled to leave Aden tomorrow and head to Gulf of Aden to carry out missions to ensure safety of Russian shipping in region," Russia's Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo was quoted as saying.
Russian warship Neustrashimy is patrolling Gulf of Aden and is scheduled to safeguard Russian ships until 24th November. However, at Russian ship owners' request, it may remain there longer, reports have shown.
Awad Ahmed Ashareh, chairman of Somalia's Parliamentary Committee for Information, Culture, Public Awareness and Heritage, said his country has already allowed Russia and United States to use its waters to confront pirates who hijacked MV FAINA, but he noted that move has yet to be approved by Somali parliament.
Meanwhile, Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, prime minister Nur Hassan Hussein and scores of Somali MPs will attend a summit hosted by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional body comprising seven African states.
Summit which will run from tomorrow until Wednesday will discuss piracy along coast and a potential ceasefire between opposing forces in war-torn country.
According to IGAD spokesman Brazille Musumba, "peace and security in Somalia are at top of agenda."
In the meantime, NATO ships are said to have begun anti-piracy operations off Somalia, NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said one of their vessels was escorting a United Nations (UN) World Food Programme ship due to dock in Mogadishu tomorrow.
"Another had escorted a ship taking supplies to Burundian peacekeepers in country. Operation is moving well," Mr de Hoop Scheffer told media.
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