A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.
Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill ‘within days’ of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.
Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: ‘We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.’
The vessel’s declared cargo consists of ‘minerals’ and ‘industrial products’. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.