Somali pirates hijack charcoal ship

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Somali pirates said they had hijacked a boat carrying charcoal from the rebel-held south of the Horn of Africa nation to Dubai.

The government said this week that illegal charcoal exports to Gulf states were a big source of income for rebel groups such as al Shabaab that control parts of Somalia.
“We have hijacked a boat laden with charcoal shortly after it was seen off by armed al Shabaab from Kudha port yesterday,” a pirate called Hassan told Reuters.
“The boat was en route to Dubai where it initially came from.”

Staff at the al Shabaab-controlled southern port of Kismayu further north from Kudha said the boat had been chartered by Somali traders and was seized in waters off Kismayu.

The staff, who declined to be named, said the boat had earlier brought food into Kismayu before picking up the charcoal at Kudha port.

Somali sea gangs have plagued the busy shipping lanes off Somalia for several years earning ransoms worth millions of dollars from most vessels captured.

Besides the ships held for ransom, pirates also hijack vessels to be used as so-called motherships which ferry the gunmen and their speedboats far out to sea to launch attacks.

Source: www.af.reuters.com