Local Somali media sources have been covering a “summit” between pirate groups and Islamist insurgents. The reports claim that a 2-day meeting between Al-Shabab which controls over 10 regions in southern Somalia and local pirates ended without agreement.
The sticking point it seems was the sensitive issue of sharing the ransom payments received by pirates – and reports differ on the figures believed to be demanded.
“The delegate from Al-Shabab has said that we should give them 10% of the ransom money which we obtain from the owners, the companies or the insurance companies which the vessels which we are holding as captive give us, and this is beyond logic, and we could not accept, and I assure that this will be the end of our relationship with Al-Shabab” said a anonymous Somali pirate.
Once the bilateral meeting ended it was reported that Al-Shabab fighters took with them 4 prominent business tycoons who it is believed have been sponsoring pirate groups. “The Islamists have arrested four of our investors. They asked for a 20-percent share of ransoms expected to be paid for ships held off Harardhere, but the investors rejected the demand,” Abdi Yare, a Hobyo pirate chief, said.
Tensions have been growing between the two groups for some time, reports indicate that local inhabitants fearful of a violent confrontation have now started moving to remote areas of the district to avoid the potential conflict.
The disagreement has also led to the shifting of a number of hijacked vessels. Pirates holding ships anchored off Harardhere in central Somalia are now reportedly moving them to Hobyo, north of Harardhere, which is controlled by clans hostile to the Shebab.
“There were around nine ships — three of them big ones — held off Harardhere but the ships started shifting from the area because of the disputes,” Abdi Yare, a Hobyo pirate chief told AFP.