Sunday, 15 February 2009

31 tanks off-loaded from MV Faina in Mombasa

Released Ukrainian ship off-loads cargo in Kenyan port 2009-02-16
MOMBASA, Kenya, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- A total of 31 tanks were off-loaded from the Ukrainian ship, MV Faina which was released early this month by Somali pirates after more than four months in captivity, in the Kenyan port of Mombasa by Sunday evening.

The off-loading of the remaining two tanks which went on smoothly began at about 18:30 p.m. (1530GMT) .

On Saturday when the exercise began, Colonel George Kabugi, deputy commander of an armored brigade of the Kenya Army who was in charge of the operation, said the equipment had started being off-loaded after successfully anchoring the vessel.

"The exercise has been hampered by low tide but we are now happy that we have started off-loading and hope to take out all the tanks and other equipment tonight," he said when off-loading kicked off.

Kabugi, who supervised the exercise, declined an interview, saying he would brief the press later.

There was tight security around the area to secure the tanks parked at the terminal, and those on the wagons.

"You can see the exercise is going on smoothly and we are expecting to off-load the remaining tanks at high tides," he said.

It is expected that the loading of the tanks into the wagons will take at least one more day due to its tedious process.

"It is not easy to load these tanks on the wagons. The process of fixing them to ensure that they do not fall is not easy," said an official involved in the exercise.

Off-loading of the 33 tanks from the vessel started late on Saturday after two days of delay since the vessel arrived on Thursday.

The exercise which was scheduled to commence on Friday last week had been hampered by low tide during the initial stages. High security around berth five where the vessel has docked continued to be maintained by on 24 hour basis by Kenya army soldiers.

The ship's manifest suggests that the cargo was heading for South Sudan. But the Kenyan government has repeatedly denied this, insisting that the arms are theirs. The government of south Sudan has also rejected the claims.

MV Faina, which was hijacked on its way to the port city of Mombasa on Sept. 25, 2008, was delivering a shipment of military tanks, rocket launchers and small arms.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

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