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Captain Arrested Over Yemen Disaster

UN Integrated Regional Information Network, 16 June 2001

Police in Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, arrested the captain of a boat in which more than 80 passengers recently drowned, local sources told IRIN. Captain Muse Sanweyne was arrested on Monday when police were alerted, Bile Muhammed Qabowsade, editor of the newspaper ’Yool’ told IRIN. The captain and his crew forced passengers at gunpoint into the water after the engine of the boat stalled, a survivor told IRIN on 21 May. Sanweyne is believed to have been involved in numerous boat trips to Yemen since 1991, he said. Since the collapse of the central government in 1991, hundreds of Somalis seeking a new life in Yemen have lost their lives at sea, after paying unscrupulous businessmen using crowded and unseaworthy boats, humanitarian sources said.

Five members of the crew—believed to be the gunmen who forced people off the boat—are suspected to be hiding in the countryside. Puntland police had sent an alert to all police points in the region to apprehend the men, Bile told IRIN. Meanwhile, Bosaso police arrested 45 people this week on charges of prostitution and drug trafficking. Bile said it was part of a special police operation in the port town.