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Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Thursday, 12 February 2009

Freed weapons ship docks in Kenya

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Karen Allen watches the boat arrive

A ship packed with battle tanks and ammunition, freed after being held by Somali pirates since September, has reached the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The MV Faina, released for a ransom of $3.2m (2.2m), was met by Kenyan and Ukrainian government officials.

Controversy still surrounds the freight on the Ukrainian-registered vessel.

Kenya insists the weaponry is for the Kenyan army, but the ship's documents seem to suggest the arms belong to the government of South Sudan.

A parliamentary committee is investigating the issue.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Mombasa says if the allegations are true, it would be a huge embarrassment for the Kenyan government, which helped broker a peace deal between the north and south of Sudan four years ago.

MV FAINA
Map
Pirates seized the MV Faina on 25 September 2008
Cargo consisted of 33 T-72 tanks, rocket launchers and small arms
Kenya claims the cargo; reports said it was for South Sudan

The MV Faina was brought into port by two tugs, along with a military escort.

Its arrival has become a huge public spectacle, with the media invited to witness the event.

This is in sharp contrast to the secrecy that has surrounded the ship and its cargo since it was hijacked off the coast of Somalia on 25 September 2008.

The Kenyan authorities insist that the cargo of 33 Soviet-era T-72 combat tanks and thousands of rounds of ammunition are destined for the Kenyan military.

But the ship's manifest - checked by international security experts - suggests the weaponry is destined for South Sudan.

Kenya's military spokesman Bogita Ongeri told AFP news agency on Wednesday: "Those who had doubts about the contents and its destination should be there to witness.

"We will all be there to receive the Faina and our military cargo which will be offloaded and taken in for safety in our respective military camps."

Embassy officials have turned up to meet the mainly Ukrainian crew of 20.

The captain of the ship died two days after it was seized by the pirates but the cause of his death is not yet clear and his body still needs to be repatriated.

Ukrainian television channel ICTV reported on Wednesday that special services sources have suggested the captain may have been poisoned to conceal the cargo's destination.

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