15 March 2009

Tanks - Who do they really belong to?

Somali pirates captured ships off of their coast on a regular basis. However, one recent incident was quite newsworthy in Kenya. The MV Faina, carrying 33 tanks, was captured last October. The pirates held it for more than four months off the coast of Somalia.

During all this time - as with so many things in Kenya - mystery and controversy surrounded it. Whose tanks were they really?

The ship was finally released about a month ago and finished its journey to the port of Mombasa. The 33 Soviet-made tanks aboard were offloaded and quickly moved to Kahawa barracks in Nairobi, even as details emerged about the secrecy of the arms deal between the Kenyan Government and Ukraine.

While the tanks are said to belong to the government of Southern Sudan, which is under a UN arms embargo, Kenyan Government spokesman Alfred Mutua said they belong to Kenyan military.

The bill of lading and manifest obtained by Nation show that the ship named Mv Faina also had more than 812 tonnes of ammunition and numerous spare parts besides 33 T-72 tanks from Ukraine.

With the Chief of General Staff Gen Jeremiah Kianga emphatically laying claim to the arms aboard the ship, questions persist as to why Kenya is arming itself.

The country has never gone to war with its neighbors except for the Shifta war in the 1960s after a threat by leaders from the North Eastern province to secede to Somalia was met with force.

The 33 tanks from Ukraine now bring Kenya’s tanks to more than 200, including an estimated 100 purchased in 2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How crazy! I recently read a story about modern-day pirates. I had no idea...

Very interesting!