NAIROBI, Kenya – Interpol said Friday it will help seven African nations better fight piracy off the coast of Somalia.
The program is expected to cost $2.17 million (euro1.6 million), said Pierre Saint Hilaire, the assistant director of the Interpol's maritime piracy task force.
The first phase of the European Union-funded program will include Interpol providing Seychelles with a digital fingerprint identification system to make it easier to identify pirates and share information on them, Hilaire said.
Other countries to benefit from the 20-month program are Djibouti, Kenya, Mauritius, Somalia, Tanzania and Yemen. Kenya and Seychelles have more than 100 Somali pirates in their custody. Some of the millions of dollars in ransom is believed to be invested in Kenya.
Earlier on Friday, The European Union's anti-piracy task force said it appeared that Somali pirates had hijacked the vessel Alfardous and its eight crew members in the Gulf of Aden. The force said it had no more details about the vessel since it was seized Sunday.
Somalia hasn't had a functioning government since 1991, and piracy has flourished off its coast. The pirates earn multimillion dollar ransoms from the hijackings. They were holding 29 ships and roughly 660 hostages before the latest seizure.