Bickering Pirates Shoot Each Other Over $7M Ransom
Somalis had called on antipiracy force to fend off rivals
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2010 5:56 AM CST
The Greece-flagged tanker Maran Centaurus was released by Somali pirates yesterday after a ransom believed to have been up to $7 million was paid.   (AP Photo/Maran Tankers)

(Newser) – At least three Somali pirates have been killed fighting over the biggest ransom in the history of piracy. A gun battle broke in out the pirate haven of Harardhere last night after a record $7 million was paid to secure the release of the Greek supertanker Maran Centaurus, its $150 million cargo, and 28 crewmembers. Local elders are trying to mediate between two sides disagreeing over how the loot should be divided, a pirate tells Bloomberg.

The fighting began even before the ransom was delivered, the AP reports. A rival gang arrived in speedboats just before the cash was dropped off, prompting the pirates holding the vessel to radio nearby anti-piracy forces for help, warning that a gunfight could ignite the crude oil onboard. Helicopters duly arrived to chase the attackers off, according to a Somali middleman involved in the negotiations—although a European naval force commander denies that they would ever intervene in a pirate fight.