UN eyes link between government and pirates in Somalia

New York: The United Nations is concerned about the possibility of collaboration between pirates and government officials in Somalia’s Puntland region, according to a new U.N. report released Wednesday.

The report, prepared by the office of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the Security Council, said that it had identified two main piracy networks in Somalia — one in the semi-autonomous northern Puntland region and the other based in the Eyl district.”There are increasing reports of complicity by members of the Somali region of Puntland administration in piracy activities,” Ban’s report said. But he said it was encouraging that the current and former leadership of Puntland appeared to be taking “a more robust approach” in fighting piracy.Pirates have been seizing vessels in the Gulf of Aden, which connects Europe to Asia and the Middle East via the Suez Canal, hijacking dozens of ships last year and taking tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments.An official from the East African Seafarers Assistance Program said Wednesday that Puntland villagers detained an Iranian vessel though the circumstances remain unclear.Foreign navies, including those of Russia, China and European Union countries, have sent ships to the Horn of Africa to help tackle the threat and the effort has reduced the number of hijackings off the coast of the virtually lawless country.

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