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Somali pirates invented story of attack by Faina crew - analyst

10.12.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

Reports that the crew of a Ukrainian ship held by Somali pirates attacked two of their abductors were fabricated by the pirates, the chief editor of a maritime publication said Tuesday.

AFP reported earlier Tuesday that the pirates said the crew of the Faina attacked two of their captors Monday night.

"In reality, the following happened: Yesterday evening, two pirates who headed for the shore on a boat were seized and detained by the Americans. The pirates called intermediaries and the ship owner and asked them to speak to the Americans to ask for the release of their seized accomplices, but were told it is impossible," Mikhail Voitenko from Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin said.

"So the pirates launched the canard about a mutiny. Something like a threat," Voitenko told Ukraine's Unian news agency, citing the Faina's owner.

Ukrainian cargo ship the Faina, carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other heavy weaponry, was seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The pirates initially demanded a $35 million ransom, but recent information suggests the figure has fallen to $3.5 million.

The crew consists of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians, and one Latvian. The Russian captain of the Faina, Vladimir Kolobkov, died of a heart attack after the vessel was seized, and his body is still on board.

Somali pirates have attacked around 90 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of around 39 vessels, including 200 crew members.

The navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the East African nation, which has been without a functioning government since 1991.

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