World News

Hostage shot dead by Somali pirates

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - A man was shot dead on Sunday after he refused to disembark from a yacht in the Indian Ocean that was hijacked by Somali pirates last week, pirates and residents said on Sunday.

The man was killed in Barawe town on the southern Somali coastline by pirates who had taken him hostage and wanted him to go onshore from his yacht in which he was sailing with others, including a woman and a boy.

His nationality was not immediately clear.

“He was shot and killed after he refused to disembark from his yacht and move onshore in Baraawe town,” Ali Shuke, a resident in Baraawe town said.

“The man died instantly and the gunmen took the other hostages onshore. The woman and a boy were taken to jungle areas near the town.”

The hostages’ yacht was adrift on the coast, residents said.

Somali pirates hijack vessels on the Indian Ocean, take them to the Somali coast and hold them until money is paid, but the killing of hostages is rare.

Andrew Mwangura, the head of a regional maritime group based in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa, said the yacht, which was hijacked last Monday near Lamu on Kenya’s coast, was anchored along Somali’s coastline near Barawe.

“What I know is there was a yacht spotted by local people in southern Somalia, and we are trying to investigate reports of hostages and to verify their nationality,” Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said.

Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked rebel group, controls Barawe on the southern coast of the anarchic Horn of Africa nation that has been mired in violence and is awash with weapons since the overthrow of dictator Siad Barre in 1991.

A spokesman for al Shabaab had said the man was South African. South Africa’s department of international relations and cooperation said in a statement, however, that he was not a South African citizen.

The pirates had said last week that the hostages were British. The British foreign office has said only that it had heard of the reports of the hijacking, and was investigating.

The U.N.-backed administration of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed controls just a few blocks of the capital.

Writing by James Macharia; editing by Myra MacDonald