MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A Somali businessman says pirates have hijacked a Panamanian-flagged ship with 18 crew.
Abdirisaq Abdulkadir says he heads a business group that hired the al-Mizan to carry food, electronics and other small items from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu. He denied reports that the ship is carrying weapons. Abdulkadir says there are 15 Indians, two Pakistanis and a Somali on board.
A man who answered a satellite phone number provided by Abdulkadir on Tuesday identified himself as a pirate and said the bandits are demanding $3 million.
Spurred by poverty in Somalia, pirates made tens of millions of dollars hijacking ships for ransom last year, seizing more than 40 vessels off the African nation's 1,880-mile (3,000-kilometer) coastline.