Somali pirates who hijacked an Iranian shipping vessel said to be carrying either "minerals" or "small arms and chemical weapons" have, en masse, fallen ill with a mysterious disease. The head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme has been threatened with a lawsuit by the Iranian government for issuing spooky statements to the press to the effect that there was some kind of evil "chemicals" on the ship.
He told one news publication, The Long War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the pirates, a number of them had become sick and died.
"That ship is unusual," he was quoted as saying. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."
The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship's cargo containers when some of them fell sick – but the containers were locked.
Osman's delegation spoke to the ship's captain and its engineer by cellphone, demanding to know more about the cargo.
Initially it was claimed the cargo contained "crude oil"; later it was said to be "minerals".
And Mwangura has added: "Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals."
But IRISL has denied that – and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has reportedly paid the pirates 200000 – the first of several "ransom instalments", but that, too, has been denied.