Nairobi — The Sh3.6 million intercepted at Mogadishu airport, Somalia, on Tuesday was ransom for the release of two ships and their 56 crew members.
The $3.6 million was for Mv Yuan Xiang and Mv Suez according to Mr Andrew Mwangura, the maritime editor of Somali Report, a publication that specialises in Somalia news.
"Information we have shows that $1.5 million was to be delivered onto the Mv Suez and the balance was to be dropped onto Mv Yuan Xiang," he said.
Initially the gunmen were demanding $2.1 million ransom for the release of Mv Suez and her crew, Mr Mwangura said.
The Mv Suez was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on August 2, last year, en route to Eritrea from Pakistan.
Her crew members were six Indians, four Pakistanis, four Sri Lankans and 13 Egyptians.
The Panama-flagged general cargo vessel is managed by Egyptian-based Red Sea Navigation Company and is owned by Matso Shipping Company of Egypt.
The Panama-flagged Mv Yuan Xiang was taken by pirates alongside her 29 Chinese crew on 13 November 13, last year, 650 nautical miles East of Salalah, Oman. The vessel is owned and managed by Nigbo Hongyuan Ship Management Ltd.
On Thursday, it was not possible to get a comment from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority on the ownership of the planes held in Somalia.
Somali authorities have, however, confirmed that the planes belong to an aviation company based at Wilson Airport, Nairobi. Efforts to get a comment from the firm were unsuccessful as they directors were said to be out of office.
The planes were carrying $3.6 million when they were intercepted at Mogadishu airport on Tuesday.
Somalia Interior and Security minister Abdishakur Hassan Farah said six people, including the pilots, were detained.
The minister said three of those arrested carried UK passports, another an American passport while two have Kenyan identifications.
State minister for Finance in the Transitional Federal Government Mohamed Hassan Aden said the cash was "suspiciously brought to the airport" by foreign nationals claiming to be engaged in humanitarian activities.
An official at Mogadishu airport said one of the planes had flown in from Nairobi, while they were yet to determine the origin of the second.
Other sources said the second plane flew in from the Seychelles where it had collected the ransom money before heading to Mogadishu to pay pirates and take the balance to piracy masterminds based in Kenya.
On Thursday Somali authorities said investigations into the case were going on.
On July 18, last year, the Daily Nation revealed how piracy and the big money being made out of it is seeping into Kenya's economic fabric, presenting a serious threat to the economy as well as law and order.
Investigations showed how Kenyan law firms, security, aviation and shipping companies were doing business with pirates in the Indian Ocean.More than $80 million (Sh 6.5 billion) is paid to Somali pirates as ransom annually.