NAIROBI (Reuters) - An explosion of piracy this month off the coast of Somalia is funding a growing insurgency onshore as the hijackers funnel hefty ransom payments to Islamist rebels, a maritime official said on Sunday.
A record four ships were seized in 48 hours last week off the anarchic Horn of Africa nation, meaning Somali pirates are currently holding hostage four cargo vessels, two tankers and a tug boat, along with about 130 crew members.
The spike in attacks at sea has coincided with a rise in assaults on land by radical al-Shabaab insurgents, including the capture on Friday of Somalia's strategic southern port Kismayu.
The United States say al-Shabaab is a terrorist group with close ties to al Qaeda. Experts say some of the businessmen and warlords who command the pirates are also funding the rebels.
"The entire Somali coastline is now under control of the Islamists," Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, told Reuters in an interview.
"According to our information, the money more..http://www.reuters.com/article/reutersEdge/idUSLO00572320080824