Tensions Defused

Somali militants have reportedly freed pirate gang leaders detained last week after agreeing on a cut for future ransoms as well as a deal to have hijacked ships anchor at the port town of Haradhere, according to local pirates sources.

The Al Shabaab rebels, who profess loyalty to al Qaeda, claim they had settled a multi-million dollar deal to receive a 20 percent cut in all future ransoms paid to the pirates, and opened a “marine office” at Haradhere to liaise with the pirates.

The rebel group controls major sea ports in southern Somalia, including the port of Kismayo, and seized Haradhere after merging with rival insurgents Hizbul Islam late last year.

“After negotiation we signed the 20 percent ransom share to Al Shabaab and they released our leaders today. Now our relationship with Al Shabaab has improved,” a pirate who identified himself as Ali told Reuters by phone from Haradhere.

“They have opened the marine office to improve security and coordination between us. We are happy because we have no other alternatives than agreeing with Al Shabaab demands for us to maintain Haradhere as our base.”

Ahmed Wardhere, who attended the negotiations as a representative of the local community, confirmed the agreement.

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