London, Nov 23 : Heavily armed fighters of Somalia's hardline Islamist movement, Shabaab militia, have entered the pirate town in hope of spoils from the hijacked Saudi oil tanker, the Sirius Star.
The piracy crisis in the Indian Ocean took a dramatic new twist with the entry of hardline Islamist movement fighters, who have tried to impose brutal law and order in Somalia, The Telegraph reported.
The fighters from the Shabaab militia, a fundamentalist movement likened to an African Taliban, were reported to have turned up in the port of Haradheere in southern Somalia, close to where the tanker is currently anchored.
Some reports said the Islamists, who have tried to impose brutal law and order on Somalia's warring clans, had the pirates themselves in their sights, the paper said.
Others in Haradheere, however, said it was thought that they had arrived in the hope of collecting a share of any ransom money.
The pirate group that hijacked the tanker, which is carrying 100 million dollar worth of oil, has demanded a 25 million dollar ransom for return of the vessel and its 25-strong crew.
"The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship," said a clan elder in Haradheere.
"I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."
But other residents believed the Shabaab's motives were not altruistic. "There are many militiamen who have arrived in the town and they want to get a share from the pirates if the ransom is paid," claimed Ahmed Abdullahi, another clan elder.
The Shabaab fighters used to be the armed wing of the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamist organisation that briefly brought peace to Mogadishu two years ago before being deposed by the weak but internationally-backed transitional federal government.