Update as of 1300 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
From Fox News (Iran):
As Somali pirates brazenly maintain their standoff with American warships off the coast of Africa, the cargo aboard one Iranian ship they commandeered is raising concerns that it may contain materials that can be used for chemical or biological weapons.
Some local officials suspect that instead of finding riches, the pirates encountered deadly chemical agents aboard the Iranian vessel.
On Aug. 21, the pirates, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, stole onto the decks of the merchant vessel Iran Deyanat.
They ransacked the ship and searched the containers. But in the days following the hijacking, a number of them fell ill and died, suffering skin burns and hair loss, according to reports.
The pirates were sickened because of their contact with the seized cargo, according to Hassan Osman, the Somali minister of Minerals and Oil, who met with the pirates to facilitate negotiations.
"That ship is unusual," Osman told the Long War Journal, an online news source that covers the War on Terror. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."
The pirates reportedly were in talks to sell the ship back to Iran, but the deal fell through when the pirates were poisoned by the cargo, according to Andrew Mwangura, director of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Program.
God Bless America
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