MOGADISHU // Somali pirates who hijacked a ship laden with tanks and heavy weapons stared down US warships and helicopters again today making no move to withdraw their US$20 million (Dh73m) ransom demand or give up after a seven-day standoff in the Indian Ocean. The hijacking of the Ukrainian cargo ship MV Faina - carrying 33 Soviet-made T-72 tanks, rifles, and heavy weapons that US defence officials have said included rocket launchers - was the highest-profile act of piracy in the dangerous waters off Somalia this year.
The US Navy says it wants to keep the arms out of the hands of militants linked to al Qa'eda in impoverished Somalia, a key battleground in the war on terrorism. To that end, it has surrounded the Faina, anchored off the central Somali town of Hobyo, with half a dozen ships, including USS guided missile destroyer USS Howard, which has sophisticated weapons and monitoring equipment. *AP