Plane with 37 pirates held in Nairobi

By late Sunday afternoon, an aircraft carrying 37 pirates was still being being guarded at a secluded location of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi near the military barracks. Photo/LIZ MUTHONI

An aircraft carrying 37 pirates was on Sunday still being held at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport under heavy guard as high-level negotiations continued.

The pirates are said to have been released by the Seychelles Government before their Kenyan contact made arrangements and paid the aircraft company to fly them through JKIA on their way to Mogadishu.

President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga had been informed about the aircraft and its human cargo and were said to be in negotiations with both the Seychelles and Somali governments.

The Kenyan Government was said to be navigating the diplomatic minefield on the implications of allowing the pirates into the country, which is perceived by the international community to be helping in the fight against piracy and terrorism.

Police remained tight-lipped about the saga despite heavy presence of General Service Unit (GSU) officers at the JKIA.

The Nation has established that the 40-seater Dash-8 aircraft arrived at JKIA from the Seychelles on Saturday night and was immediately surrounded by police officers.

The passengers and crew of three were not allowed to disembark. The crew comprises pilot Jimmy Owino; a Mr Anil, the first officer; and flight attendant Lorraine Nyaboke.

The aircraft, which belongs to a local company, was hooked onto a ground power unit for its lighting, air conditioning and toilet system so that the occupants use its facilities and not have the excuse to disembark.

According to sources in the aviation industry privy to the incident, the owners of the aircraft had been hired by a person in Kenya who told them that the passengers had been cleared by both the Kenyan and Seychelles governments to fly from Seychelles International Airport in Victoria city on Mahe Island.

They were scheduled to disembark from the plane and enter Nairobi from where they would have either sneaked back into Somalia or remained in the country to enjoy their ill-gotten riches.

The aircraft was, however, intercepted and the passengers detained after it was established that it had no clearance and neither had any been arranged between Kenya and Seychelles or Kenya and Somalia. By late Sunday afternoon, the aircraft was being guarded at a secluded location of the JKIA near the military barracks.


You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.