As Somali Islamists Drive Out Pirates, What Happens to 360 Hostages?


Islamic rebels seeking to take control of Somalia have seized a key coastal village used by pirates, leaving the fate of some 360 hostages in doubt. Members of Hizbul-Islam entered Haradhere over the weekend, prompting pirates to flee the area. A BBC News reporter said at least 60 hostages from three vessels were moved up the coast, but that still left another 300 captives unaccounted for.

International fight against piracy … French forces with Somali pirates captured in the Gulf of Aden.

Publicly, Hizbul-Islam fighters, who arrived in Haradhere after themselves being driven out of the port town of Kismayo by another Islamist group, has said it wants to end piracy as part of its goal to establish Sharia law in Somalia. Hizbul-Islam also opposes prostitution, drugs and alcohol, all of which were widespread under pirate rule.

But there are unconfirmed reports that the group tried previously to cut a deal with pirates and share in the ransom money. The New York Times has reported that pirates may have collected as much as $100 million in ransoms, making their work an enticing source of revenue.

Dutch Marines Board Hijacked Ship/In Dutch