Ten Somali pirates who hijacked an Indian-based ship threw their most lethal weapons into the sea when they spotted a U.S. Navy ship, a witness told a Kenyan court Wednesday. Akbar Ali Suleiman, master of the Safina Al Bisaarat, said the pirates hid other weapons in one of their boats that they used in the raid, but U.S. sailors who intervened to end the hijacking found them.
Suleiman's ship was seized by pirates two days after leaving the Somali port of Kismayo en route to Dubai , United Arab Emirates . "They were also shooting (rocket-propelled grenades) at our vessel which was loaded with charcoal and there was a risk of it exploding since the charcoal was flammable," he told the Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Beatrice Jaden.
"I was also not able to send out any distress signal because although our vessel was in motion, the generator had been switched off and it had to be in operation if any of us wanted to communicate," he said.
The suspected pirates were detained by the U.S. sailors who boarded the vessel on Jan. 22 in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur two days earlier that pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the central eastern coast of Somalia .
Suleiman said he and his crew hid under their cargo of charcoal when the U.S. frigate began firing warning shots. Eventually the pirates stopped the ship, and U.S. forces boarded the vessel. The U.S. Navy handed the suspect over to Kenyan authorities on Jan. 29.
Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia , which has no effective government of its own to respond. The Horn of African nation has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other. The trial was expected to continue Thursday, reports the AP.
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