[dehai-news] (AFP) Somalia Islamists vow tough anti-piracy drive

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Wed Nov 19 2008 - 10:37:57 EST

Somalia Islamists vow tough anti-piracy drive

Nov 19, 2008

MOGADISHU (AFP) A hardline Islamist alliance controlling Somalia's main
southern port of Kismayo on Wednesday promised tough measures to protect
ships and traders from marauding pirates.

"We will set up marine forces and will protect all ships and vessels from
the pirates off the coastal areas we control," Sheikh Hasan Yaqub, spokesman
for the Islamist administration in Kismayo told AFP.

Somali pirates have become at the centre of new international attention
after a group hijacked an oil-laden Saudi super-tanker on Saturday.

Kismayo, one off the largest cities in Somalia, was captured in August by an
alliance of Shebab fighters -- who are conquering much of the country -- and
warlord Hassan al-Turki, who is on a US terrorism list.

Yaqub said that on Wednesday alone, 20 small ships bringing goods from the
United Arab Emirates had offloaded their cargo in Kismayo under the watch of
the local authorities' security forces.

"We will never allow those gangs to cause havoc in our waters anymore and we
will protect all vessels," he said.

Omar Abdiyare, one of the Somali traders whose vessel arrived in Kismayo
Wednesday, said local businesses had asked the Islamist rulers to set up an
anti-piracy force.

"We are very concerned at the growing number of attacks by pirates so we
asked Islamists to protect our ships as much as possible off the coastal
areas they control," he said.

The Kismayo administration has imposed a very strict form of Sharia law in
recent weeks. Under Islamic law, piracy is punishable by death.

Some experts have tied the surge of piracy in Somalia to Ethiopia's 2006
military invasion, which removed from power an Islamist militia that had
taken tough measures against pirates.

Kismayo has had its own pirate groups, traditionally targeting mainly
foreign boats fishing illegally.

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