Report: Documents suggest hijacked tanks bound for South Sudan
The freight manifest of a Ukrainian ship hijacked by Somali pirates suggests that its cargo of tanks and other weapons is bound for South Sudan, contradicting statements by the Kenyan government, reports said Tuesday, reported dpa.
The MV Faina, which was seized almost two weeks ago, is currently surrounded by international warships off the coast off Somalia as negotiations to secure its release continue.
Kenya continues to insist that the 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment onboard are for its own use, despite claims by maritime officials and others that this is not the case.
The BBC said Tuesday it had seen a copy of the manifest and that contract numbers contained the initials GOSS, which military sources say refer to the Government of South Sudan.
Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme previously told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that several such shipments had come through Kenya on their way to Sudan.
Mwangura was arrested for making "false statements" relating to the destination of the cargo and is due to come before a court later this month.
The Kenyan government is yet to comment on the BBC's claims.
North and South Sudan have maintained a fragile peace since 2005, although recent tensions in the town of Abyei brought the two sides close to war again.
Should the shipment prove to be headed for southern Sudan, the prospects for long-term peace could be dealt another blow.
Ukrainian government officials have said the shipment was a legitimate state-to-state arms delivery from Ukraine to Kenya.
Negotiations on a multi-million-dollar ransom settlement for the ship are believed to be in the final stages.
Piracy is rife in the Gulf of Aden - a strategic shipping route off Somalia - with around a dozen ships currently in the hands of armed groups.