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.
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.
- Islamic Militants Vow to Halt Somali Piracy, Free Hostages as Bandits Relocate (by Malkadir Muhamed and Mohaned Olad Hassan, Associated Press)
- Somali Pirates Move Captive Ships as Islamists Advance (BBC News)
- Insurgents’ Seizure of a Pirate Base in Somalia Raises Questions About Its Future (by Jeffrey Gettleman and Mohamed Ibrahim, New York Times)
- Islamists Take Somalian Town Where British Couple are Held (by Matt Brown and Stephen Adams, Telegraph)
- Pirates Currently Hold 260 Hostages (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
- Save the Chandlers