7 held for suspected tanker hijack after UK commando raid

7 held for suspected tanker hijack after UK commando raid
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Nave Andromeda at Southampton Docks following a security incident aboard the ship off the coast of the Isle of Wight, Southampton, Britain, October 26, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 26 October 2020

7 held for suspected tanker hijack after UK commando raid

7 held for suspected tanker hijack after UK commando raid
  • Men, believed to be from Nigeria, were being held at several police stations on suspicion of ‘seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force’
  • SBS commandos were lowered by rope from helicopters onto the tanker, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure part of the ship known as the citadel

LONDON: Seven stowaways seized when British naval special forces stormed an oil tanker in the English Channel have been arrested on suspicion of hijacking, police said Monday.
Hampshire Police said the men, believed to be from Nigeria, were being held at several police stations on suspicion of “seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force.” They have not been charged.
Police said the 22 crew members of the Nave Andromeda were “safe and well” after the raid, which unfolded after darkness fell on Sunday. Special Boat Service commandos were lowered by rope from helicopters onto the tanker, whose crew had locked themselves in a secure part of the ship known as the citadel. Within minutes, the stowaways were in custody.
Maritime tracking websites showed the ship reached port in Southampton, on England’s south coast, early Monday.
Police said officers were speaking to crew members to determine exactly what had happened.
The ship had left Lagos, Nigeria, on Oct. 6 and had been due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning.
Navios Tanker Management, which operates the Liberian-registered vessel, said the ship’s master became “concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.” A 10-hour standoff ensued as the tanker circled an area a few miles southeast of the Isle of Wight, south of Southampton.
“I think this has got all the hallmarks of a situation where a number of stowaways are seeking political asylum, presumably in the UK,” said Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping. “At some stage they got aggressive.”
“Clearly no one knew at the time how aggressive they were, whether they were armed or not, what their motives were, because there will have been confusion at that stage,” he said.
The coast guard scrambled helicopters to the scene, and authorities imposed a three-mile exclusion zone around the vessel. Suspecting a hijacking, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel authorized military action, the UK government said.
The Special Boat Service is the elite maritime counter-terrorism unit of the Royal Navy, and the government never comments directly on its actions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he couldn’t comment on “operational details.”
“Both police and armed forces did a fantastic job and I thank them very, very much for what they did to keep our shores safe,” he said.


Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Updated 02 December 2020

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park

Pygmies, soldier killed in clashes over DR Congo park
  • In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the perimeter of Kahuzi-Biega National Park and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal
  • According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the habitat of endangered gorillas

BUKAVU, DR Congo: Three Pygmies and a soldier were killed in clashes near DR Congo’s Kahuzi-Biega National Park, military sources and local officials said Wednesday, as calls grow for protection of the country’s indigenous peoples.
The national park, which celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday, is a haven for critically endangered gorillas but faces an emerging threat from a conflict between rangers and local Pygmies, who claim they were robbed of ancestral lands when the park was extended in the 1970s.
The central African country’s parliament is currently considering a law to guarantee the rights of Pygmies.
Clashes erupted on Monday in the nearby village of Kabamba in South Kivu province, military sources and the territory’s administrator Thadee Miderho said Wednesday.
In addition to the four killed, others were wounded, they said.
The Pygmies wanted to retrieve bags of charcoal seized by the military, according to Miderho.
In 2018, Pygmies began to move onto land inside the park’s perimeter and started to cut down trees, mainly to make charcoal.
According to park authorities, Pygmies have destroyed vast acres of woodland — an act of deforestation that gnaws away at the gorillas’ habitat.
Their return led to open conflict between Pygmies and rangers in which people on both sides have been killed.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park celebrated 50 years of existence on Monday, priding itself as “a sanctuary and refuge” of eastern lowland gorillas.
Meanwhile a civil society group in the territory of Kabare wrote an open letter to UNESCO asking for it to help “save” the Pygmies.
“Fifty years later, the existence of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park = 50 years of suffering of our Pygmies brothers and sisters,” the group wrote.
In the capital Kinshasa, the National Assembly passed a bill on November 26 for the “protection and promotion of the rights of the indigenous Pygmy peoples,” which will now be considered by the Senate.
“In the Democratic Republic of Congo, unlike other indigenous ethnic groups, the Pygmies have not always received special attention as an indigenous group,” parliament acknowledged in a memorandum.
The proposed law guarantees the recognition of the culture of the Pygmies, easy access to justice and social services, and “full access to the land.”