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Somaliland Police Arrests 5 Men Suspected Of Involvement In Piracy Attacks Off The Coast Of Puntland
The detainees were seized while trying to cross into Ethiopia via Wajaale border town in Somaliland and include Nephew of Puntland’s ruler, Adde Musa
Hargeysa, Somaliland, March 29, 2008 (SL Times) – Somaliland police on Wednesday arrested 5 men suspected of taking part in last month’s hijacking of a Russian ship off the coast of Somalia’s autonomous region of Puntland.
Puntland pirates released the captured vessel and its crew after being paid US$700,000 ransom by the Russian owners of the vessel earlier this month.
The five suspects have been identified by the Somaliland police authorities as Abdirahman Ahmed Mohamed, Omer Mohamed Mussa Boqor (nephew of Puntland ruler Adde Musa), Abdi-Aziz Abdi Ahmed, Mohamed Hassan Saeed and Mustafa Abdulla Ahmed. All are from Bossaso, Puntland’s main port town.
According to the police the 5 men have entered Somaliland from its eastern border with Somalia’s Puntland region before being seized, as they attempted to cross into Ethiopia via the border town of Wajaale.
But it wasn’t known how and whether the Somaliland authorities would be competent to bring charges against the 5 suspected pirates in respect of events that took place outside Somaliland’s territorial waters.
Although police investigators say they have strong reasons to believe that the 5 men in question may have participated in at least a dozen of ship hijackings and several incidents involving the kidnapping of foreign aid workers in Puntland, however no country has yet come forward to ask for their extradition.
Piracy has been rife in the waters off Puntland since the toppling of Somalia’s dictator Siyad Barre in 1991.
Unlike the rest of Somalia which rocketed from crisis to crisis since the collapse of Barre’s regime and despite being called as the ‘preferred venue’ for piracy, semi-autonomous Puntland has remained relatively peaceful.
However the region’s relative stability onshore has been dealt devastating blows in the last several years by an unprecedented rise in the level of piracy attacks, hijackings and kidnappings for ransom.
Puntland’s minister for Fisheries Ahmed Saeed Aw Nur has recently admitted the involvement of senior security officers in the piracy and hijackings for ransom that take place in the region. However as Puntland’s most senior warlords, both Abdillahi Yusuf and Adda Musa were known for not only condoning the business of hostage-taking but also receiving their share of the spoils.
In the last 17 years that Somalia has been without a central government, Bossaso became the main port in the region for human trafficking and smuggling of contraband goods, such as illicit drugs and arms.
Somalis and Ethiopians fleeing their homelands in search of safety or better economic conditions flocked to Bossaso port where they waited for smuggler boats to take them to Yemen. However tens of thousands of those people are believed to have drowned either after being forced off the boats by the smugglers or the small vessels carrying them capsized during the perilous passage across the Gulf of Aden.
Smugglers at Bossaso charge about $50 per person for the voyage up to Yemen. An undisclosed portion of the money went to Abdillahi Yusuf before he became president of Somalia’s so-called Transitional Federal Government in 2004.
Source: Somaliland Times