Disagreements between Somali pirates holding a ship laden with tanks and heavy weapons escalated into a shootout and three pirates are believed dead, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday. The pirates denied the report.
The U.S. destroyer USS Howard and several other American ships have surrounded the Ukrainian cargo ship Faina, which was hijacked Thursday and is now anchored off the lawless coast of Somalia. The pirates have demanded a ransom of $20 million and the U.S. Navy cordon aims to prevent them from taking any of the weapons ashore.[…]
[T]he pirate spokesman insisted the report was not true, that his colleagues were just celebrating the Muslim feast of Eid al-Fitr despite being surrounded by American warships and helicopters.
“We didn’t dispute over a single thing, let alone have a shootout,” pirate spokesman Sugule Ali told The Associated Press by satellite telephone Tuesday.
“We are happy on the ship and we are celebrating Eid,” Ali said. “Nothing has changed.”
The Islamic feast marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.