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After a lengthy investigation, Somalia Report has discovered an interesting twist in the release of the Taiwanese fishing vessel, the Shiuh Fu No.1, on Tuesday.
Following reports from the Taiwanese government that the boat had been released after successful ransom negotiations, Somalia Report contacted pirate sources who expressed surprise at the news of the vessel's release. It would appear that the pirate gang split during negotiations and the final process was far from normal as far as these things go.
The group of pirates who remained on board the vessel, including the translator other pirates who had used the boat as a mother ship, the Ilaalo (guards) group who protected the ship and their commander, Heeryo, apparently agreed to accept a ransom of $3 million. They then released the vessel without informing pirate commanders or the investors on land.
"It (the boat) returned to Dhinooda village on July 8th, and the vessel was damaged by winds. The Ilaalo group and other pirates led by Cali Jeero cheated us. They took the ransom and released the vessel without telling us," Mohayadin Ali, a pirate investor from the group told Somalia Report.
"After they took the ransom, they landed in Harardhere with speed boats and went to Mogadishu. We heard that they took $3 million. They broke our deal so now we are hunting them. They are 16 armed pirates from the Salebaan and Sacad clans," Mohayadin Ali added.
The original pirate group was made up of men from the Fatxi group from the Hawiye clan along with pirates from the Majerteen and Dir clans who were based in Hobyo. The vessel was released between Dhinooda and Ceel-Dhanaane.
The investors and other pirates who are now seriously out of pocket blame the Ilaalo commanders, Shariif and Heeryo, two pirates from the Sacad clan, who they claim took the ransom and escaped to southern Somalia.
Sources in the area added that the investors and commanders of this group are actively hunting the men who cheated them. Whilst infighting between pirates is hardly new, this is the first time one group has openly cheated another in such a manner. Conflicts like this can lead to deadly clashes in the region, as has been seen in the past.
The FV Shiuh Fu No.1 was held by pirates for 19 months and was the subject of several failed negotiations before this week's successful release. The vessel was hijacked on December 25, 2010, approximately 120 nautical miles off the north east tip of Madagascar and had a crew complement of 26 (13 Chinese, 12 Vietnamese and one Taiwanese). She had been the subject of several stories, from being used as a mother ship to the horrific report that pirates had amputated the arm of her Captain, Chao-I Wu. Somalia Report has been unable to establish whether that story was indeed true at this stage.
Somalia Report will monitor the current twist in the tale of the FV Shiuh Fu No.1 and will bring you further details as they emerge.