Mozambique detains Americans and Briton on piracy mission

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Mozambique's police briefly detained four Americans and a Briton who claimed to be on a rescue mission of a pirated ship in the Indian ocean, a spokesman said Saturday.

The group brought 750 rounds of ammunition for FN 5.5mm rifles, radio transmitters and chargers without the necessary permits into the southern African country through the airport in the northern city of Nampula on Thursday, police spokesman Joao Dina said.

"They said they were taking the equipment to rescue a ship taken by pirates in Indian waters," Dina told AFP.

Police could not say which ship the group was planning to rescue.

The leader of the group was identified as 42-year-old US citizen Michael Ferguson.

Claiming to work for private marine security group GreySide, the group said they had traveled from the United States to Ethiopia.

They entered Mozambique on a flight from Kenya and were planning to travel to Mozambique's northernmost city Pemba, where they would take a small boat to a search ship 12 miles off the coast, said Dina.

Police released the men on Friday evening and their equipment was transported to the US embassy in Maputo.

Somali piracy has moved southward to Mozambican waters and eastward to India because of increased international naval presence to curb ship hijackings on the Horn of Africa.

In January, pirates hijacked a Spanish fishing boat off the coast of central Mozambique. In December last year two cargo carriers escaped hijacking attempts in the country's northern waters.

© 2011 AFP

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