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Problems Mount With Pirates Off Somalia

  • April 12th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

somali-pirates.jpgNew attention is being focused on protection of trade routes off  Somalia, with the deaths of three people in a raid by French troops to free hostages held by pirates… and in another incident, the deaths of three pirates as an American hostage was saved.

The yacht, the Tanit, last week had sailed into a recognised danger zone; it was boarded by kidnappers, who turned down a ransom offer and prepared to take the five people on board ashore.

In the weekend military action that followed, according to official sources in Paris, the yacht’s owner was killed, along with two of the hijackers; his young son was one of the survivors.

Also off Somalia, the United States warship Bainbridge kept watch as gunmen negotiated over the life of an American sea captain, adrift with them in a lifeboat; he was then rescued (12.4.09), after naval commandos killed three of his captors, accepting the surrender of the fourth.

The pirates had taken the man with them after boarding his ship, the Maersk Alabama.

As that hostage-taking incident unfolded (11.4.09), crewmen on board another ship drove off approaching pirates with fire hoses, and yet another, a tug, was boarded, its sixteen crew made hostages.

A vast area of sea – estimated at some 2.5 million square kilometres – can be harassed from ports along the ungoverned reaches of Somalia’s coastline.

A European Union flotilla is operating in the area, along with ships from several other nations, to counter the operations of pirates using fast boats.

However the patrols are thinly spread and frequently constrained by the fact of raiders holding captives on board the vessels which they attack.

See also, EUAustralia, “Sending pirates to Davey Jones’s Locker”, 4.1.09; “Pirates seize French yacht”, 5.4.08.