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Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair
HARADHEERE, Somalia |
Given the choice of moving with his parents to Lego, their ancestral home in Middle Shabelle where strict Islamist rebels have banned most entertainment including watching sport, or joining the pirates, he opted to head for Haradheere.
Now he guards a Thai fishing boat held just offshore.
"First I decided to leave the country and migrate, but then I remembered my late colleagues who died at sea while trying to migrate to Italy," he told Reuters. "So I chose this option, instead of dying in the desert or from mortars in Mogadishu."
Haradheere's "stock exchange" is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action.
Every week, Mohammed said, gang members and equipment were lost to the sea. But he said the pirates were not deterred.
"Ransoms have even increased in recent months from between $2-3 million to $4 million because of the increased number of shareholders and the risks," he said.
"Let the anti-piracy navies continue their search for us. We have no worries because our motto for the job is 'do or die'."
Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.
"I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation," she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.
"I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company'."
(Writing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Jon Boyle)
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