Liquid Velvet

Image by Erick Antonio Montalvo, vessel renamed from Liquid Challenge in 2009

By Mohamed Odowa, SomaliaReport.com

Claims that at least six Somali pirates were killed and three others were captured by the crew of the Greek owned MT Liquid Velvet chemical tanker which was hijacked last week, are up for debate due to infighting among pirates, according to several pirates who spoke to Somalia Report.

“Six of our colleagues were killed by the hostages who escaped while the ship was coming to the coastal city of Harardhere in Mudug region. We will retaliate against our enemy,” said Abdi, a pirate.

Abdi explained that the fighting broke out when the pirates were trying to search the pockets of the crew.

Dahir Aden Shuriye, who claimed to be a relative of one of the dead pirates, confirmed the incident and told Somalia Report that the ship signaled NATO a few minutes after the clash ended.

Mohamed Ahmed, a pirate source, disputes the claims and said no fight broke out and that the pirates were chewing khat, a stimulant herb, when they spoke toSomalia Report, suggesting that the pirates were impaired.

Mohamed Ahmed also said that a number of pirates in the Harardere and Garacad area made up the rumor after Aw-kombe’s group, the pirate group holding the vessel, refused their request to join in the ransom.

“There was no clash on the vessel. My friends were eating khat. It is propaganda. After the vessel was hijacked our friends first anchored off Murcayo in Bargaal area and finally we moved it to Garacad – the vessel and her crew are now Garacad,” said Mohamed Ahmed.

Ali, a pirate on the vessel and the third officer of Aw-Kombe’s pirate group, confirmed Mohamed’s claim.

“No one died and the hostages are still their room while our staff are around the vessel. Everyone is his position and we were busy these days discussing the amount of ransom that we demanding,” said Ali.

The vessel was carrying a crew of 21 Filipinos and Greek national when she was seized on November 1st as she transited from Suez to India.

Last week Faysal, a pirate, told Somalia Report that the vessel had been hijacked by a group from the Siwaaqroon sub-clan of Majeerteen, and the leader of the group is Aw-kombe, a well known pirate in Bari region.

Other sources, however, indicate that the MT Liquid Velvet was hijacked by a pirate group known as Seed under the leadership of Husen Sanweyne, who also hails from the Siwaaqroon sub-clan.

The 17-year-old, Japanese built tanker has a gross tonnage of 5,998 tons and is 114 meters long.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker is one of a dozen tankers owned and managed by Athens-based Elmira Tankers.

Republished with permission, (c) 2011 Somalia Report

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