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Old August 17th, 2005, 06:31 AM   #21
hkskyline
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Three nations coordinate flights to spy on Malacca pirates
Fresh attacks on cargo ships in strategic Strait prompt new security efforts

Nachammai Raman Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
17 August 2005

Half the world's oil and a third of its commerce travels through the Malacca Strait, a narrow channel of water off Indonesia. So when a major maritime underwriter in London added the Malacca Strait to its list of high-risk war zones, global traders took notice.

The decision in June by Lloyd's Market Association's Joint War Committee threatens to raise the cost of international business by driving up ship owners' insurance premiums. The move follows a resurgence of pirate attacks in the Strait, which had enjoyed a brief period of calm during the presence of international navies conducting tsunami relief operations. Concerns have also mounted since Sept. 11, 2001, that terrorists may target the shipping bottleneck using similar tactics as pirates.

These concerns have forced the three principal states sharing the Malacca Strait, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, to propose adding aerial reconnaissance to a joint naval patrol program put into place last year. While critics doubt this latest step, announced this month, will dramatically improve security, the measure represents a greater willingness among the three countries to work together.

"If you look at the political context of the region, there was friction. To get the Malaysian, Singaporean, and Indonesian navies together was a very big step," says an official at the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, who requested anonymity.

Sovereignty has been a key sticking point in the effective patrolling of the Strait of Malacca. Both Malaysia and Indonesia have been wary of signing on to any program that would require a curtailment of their sovereign rights over areas of the waterway, which some 50,000 ships pass through every year. Singapore, however, has been more open.

Up to this point, the current patrol operations have not been truly joint, says Alan Chan, a ship owner in Singapore. The patrol forces of each state stay more or less within their own borders, leaving significant gaps for pirates - and by extrapolation, terrorists - to penetrate, according to Mr. Chan.

At least eight violent attacks have taken place in the Malacca Strait since February, according to the International Chamber of Commerce. Pirates target vessels carrying anything that can be easily sold. Attacks typically happen close to the coast.

The possibility of US intervention has put pressure on all three countries to work together more closely to combat the problem. "If they didn't do something, then the Americans would come in," says Mr. Ong.

That's a prospect that many people here regard as more dangerous than helpful.

"Presence of American troops in the Strait of Malacca could lead to some kind of reaction from terrorists," says Chan. And if there is violence in territorial waters, he says it could lead to diplomatic squabbles and standoffs. "Once people start shooting in territorial waters, then the question of sovereignty is sharpened."

Both Ong and Chan question the effectiveness of the proposed air surveillance operations. Pirates in the Strait strike at night in small vessels disguised as fishing boats, says Chan. "How can you tell which is a real fishing boat and which is not from up in the sky at night?"

In any case, the three countries do not have enough aerial surveillance equipment for the program. They are scouting around for it from countries like the US and Japan, which are interested in helping secure the waterway, particularly since many of the Southeast Asian terrorist outfits operate close to the Strait.

A major terrorist strike, such as blowing up an oil tanker in the Strait, could force a major rerouting of international shipping. However, Rohan Gunaratna of Singapore's Institute for Defense and Strategic Planning doesn't think an attack in the waterway will have more than "medium" repercussions. "It will not cripple sea transportation."

According to Ong, the probability of a terrorist attack is less than 1 percent. "But you can only be unlucky once. The waters here are not secure enough."
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Old August 30th, 2005, 06:30 AM   #22
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Malaysia urges Lloyd's to remove Malacca Strait from security threat list

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (AFP) - Malaysia on Monday urged an international insurance body to remove the Malacca Strait from a list of waterways deemed dangerous, saying ships are safe from terror attacks and piracy is contained.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore were working closely to ensure security in the 960-kilometre (600 mile) long passage, used by 50,000 ships a year that carry one-third of world trade, Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy told AFP.

"There is no threat of terror in the Malacca Strait," he said. "And the threat of piracy is contained. The waterway is safe for ships."

Chan urged insurance companies not to impose security premiums on vessels plying the busy route, saying: "I don't think it is fair to impose additional premiums. I hope the Malacca Strait is withdrawn from the list."

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has listed the strait, and the waters around Indonesia, as among the world's worst for piracy, and some regional governments believe ships could be targeted by terrorists.

Last year the Malacca Strait recorded 38 pirate attacks, second only to Indonesian waters, which saw 94 attacks, the IMB said.

The Lloyd's Market Association's Joint War Committee in July added the strait to a list of 20 areas worldwide -- alongside Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria -- that it deemed security threats to shipping.

The LMA is an insurance body that advises members of Lloyd's of London.

As a result, some underwriters may impose an additional premium of 0.01 percent on ships plying the strait, the Malaysian Shipowners' Association's secretary-general Captain Hasnan Anwar told AFP.

"This is an additional cost burden for shipowners for no reason," he said, pointing out that the extra charge on insuring a 2-million-dollar ship, not counting its cargo, would be 2,000 dollars.

"And not only that -- it gives an impression to the world that the Malacca Strait is not safe."

He added: "There has not been any terrorist attacks in the Malacca Strait or any evidence of a possible Al-Qaeda attack in the strait."

Noel Choong, head of the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre, agreed there was no evidence of pirate-terrorist links and said: "The pirates are only looking for financial gains, as shown by recent pirate attacks."

Malaysia is "serious and committed to ensure maritime security", he said, pointing to an operation last week in which police commandos boarded a hijacked cargo ship following a 17-hour chase through the strait.

To combat the recent increase in pirate attacks, Malaysia has said it will deploy police on tugboats and barges plying the waterway.

Malaysia has, however, rejected suggestions that the United States or other foreign navies be allowed to help patrol the strait.
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Old September 2nd, 2005, 06:50 PM   #23
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China Gives Cambodia Patrol Boats To Combat Crimes At Sea
1 September 2005

PHNOM PENH (AP)--China has given Cambodia six patrol boats to help the impoverished Southeast Asian country combat smuggling and other crimes at sea, an official said Friday.

The boats were handed over to Cambodian officials during a ceremony in the coastal city of Sihanoukville Thursday, said Duong Saroeun, the city police chief.

He said the cost of the boats was estimated at $1 million.

An official at the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh said the boats were given to help Cambodian maritime police in their efforts to crack down on drug trafficking, human smuggling and piracy.

Three of the boats have the capacity to carry 30 men and the other three can hold about 10, said the official, who demanded anonymity.

The gift signified continued cooperation between Cambodia and China, the official said.

China has provided Cambodia with hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and loans in recent years.

The two countries have forged close ties despite China's record of having been a key backer of the Khmer Rouge regime whose radical policies led to the death of some 1.7 million people in the late 1970s.
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Old September 3rd, 2005, 04:44 AM   #24
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Three Taiwanese fishing boats hijacked off Somalia

TAIPEI, Sept 1 (AFP) - Three Taiwanese fishing boats have been hijacked off the coast of Somalia and pirates are threatening to kill dozens of crewmen unless the shipowners pay a total ransom of 1.5 million US dollars, officials said Thursday.

The Chung Yi 218, Cheng Ching Feng and Hsin Lien Feng 36 were seized separately in mid-August, said Taiwan's foreign ministry spokesman Michel Lu.

"We received the appeal for help from the ships' owners on August 24," Lu said.

"They said the hijackers had demanded a ransom of 500,000 US dollars for each ship and the crew and threatened to kill them all if the demanded amount was not paid," he said, adding that details of the events were sketchy.

There are about 20 crew on board each of the 95-tonne ships. Except for Taiwanese skippers and several senior officers, the other sailors come from the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, Lu said.

Rescue efforts have been under way through different diplomatic channels, Lu said. "As of now all the crew are safe."

Somalia was plunged into anarchy after strongman Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991 and the country disintegrated into a patchwork of fiefdoms run by unruly warlords and clan militia chiefs.
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Old September 6th, 2005, 07:50 AM   #25
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why don't they just ban somalia then from maritime link network, so that its govt does smthng about it.
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Old September 6th, 2005, 03:36 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by azimo
why don't they just ban somalia then from maritime link network, so that its govt does smthng about it.
Somalia lies on a major sea trade route. Ships heading between Europe and Sea through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea will pass through the Gulf of Aden. Somalia lies on the south side of that Gulf.

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Old September 6th, 2005, 03:38 PM   #27
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Thailand to join other nations to fight piracy in Malacca Straits
03 September 2005

CHIANG MAI, Thailand (AP) - Thailand on Saturday agreed to join Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in coordinated air patrols over the pirate-infested Straits of Malacca to quell foreign jitters over security in the strategic shipping lane.

The three Southeast Asian countries last month announced an "Eyes in the Sky" initiative to counter the piracy which has plagued the straits for centuries.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, speaking at a joint press conference with his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, said his country would participate in the initiative in order to bolster security in the region.

Lee and four of his ministers held a joint cabinet meeting Saturday with Thaksin's government in the northern city of Chiang Mai.

"The Malacca Straits is not just a problem for the countries that are right there on the border. If we have problems at the Malacca Straits, it is bad for the whole of Southeast Asia," Lee said.

Thai Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkon said that as a state bordering the straits, Thailand would be working closely with other nations, including sea and patrols.

The United States has previously proposed sending troops to protect the 900-kilometer (550-mile) strait, which many fear could become a staging ground for international terrorists who might try to seize a ship, sail it into a harbor and set off a massive explosion.

However, Malaysia and Indonesia have opposed the presence of U.S. troops, preferring Southeast Asian nations to patrol the straits themselves.

Thailand has already signed an agreement on combating sea piracy in Asia, under which the country will share information with the other signatories -- Singapore, Japan, Cambodia, and Laos.

Officials have reported 37 attacks last year in the waterway, which is used by more than 50,000 ships a year, carrying half the world's oil and a third of its commerce.

Singaporean and Thai ministers also discussed ways to foster cooperation in food and agriculture, transport, financial services, tourism and auto parts.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 04:30 PM   #28
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Indonesia criticizes insurer's decision to class Malacca Strait a 'war risk' zone
7 September 2005

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia criticized on Wednesday a decision by a leading international shipping insurer to designate the Malacca Strait a "war risk area," which has increased premiums for vessels using the waterway.

Lloyds in July included the Malacca Strait on its list of the 20 most dangerous waterways in the world.

But Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said the decision was "erroneous" because none of the countries bordering the strait were at war with each other, and a recent deal had brought peace to Aceh province in the channel's northern approaches.

"It is difficult to understand how Lloyds should consider the strait a 'war risk' zone," he said at a two-day international conference on security in the world's busiest shipping lane.

More than 50,000 ships, carrying half the world's oil and a third of its commerce, use the route each year.

The waterway, which is bordered by Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, is infested by pirates and there are fears international terrorists might target ships passing through it.

According to the International Maritime Bureau there were eight pirate attacks in the first seven months of the year, down from 20 in the same timeframe in 2004, partly because pirates were deterred by a large naval presence after the Dec. 26 tsunami.

The three littoral states, the International Maritime Organization and the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank plan to launch a scheme -- the Marine Electronic Highway, or MOH -- to monitor ships passing through the waterway after the meeting.

Wirayuda said the facility, based on Indonesia's Batam Island, will develop and establish "a marine highway system in the strait for enhanced maritime services, improved navigational safety, integrated marine environment protection and sustainable development of the coastal and marine resources."

Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia began coordinated patrols last year but have rejected a foreign military presence in the waterway.
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Old September 7th, 2005, 04:37 PM   #29
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Somali pirates slash ransom demand for Taiwanese and others hostages
By MOHAMED OLAD HASSAN
6 September 2005

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - Somali pirates holding 48 Asian fishermen and their three vessels have lowered their ransom demand during government-brokered negotiations, a human rights activist said.

The gunmen, who have been holding the fishermen and their vessels near the southern Somali port of Kismayo since Aug. 15, originally demanded US$500,000 (euro399,000) for each of the three boats and their crews. They agreed to accept US$50,000 (euro39,900) during negotiations with the Malaysian agent for the Taiwan trawlers, Ali Bashi, chairman of the Fanole Human Rights Center, said Tuesday.

The hostages include three Taiwanese captains and 45 crew members from Indonesia, China, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Somalia's Foreign Affairs Minister Abdullahi Sheik Ishmail, in comments to the local media, acknowledged negotiating a ransom could damage the country's already poor international image, but said officials had to act to ensure the safety of foreign hostages.

Piracy has been common along the coast of this chaotic country. Several ships a month are attacked or hijacked, with valuables stolen and crews held for ransom. The MV Semlow, a ship carrying World Food Program supplies to Somali victims of last December's tsunami, has been held by gunmen since late June.

Rene McGuffin, a Kenya-based WFP spokeswoman, said via e-mail Tuesday that the U.N. organization continued to call for "the immediate release of the MV Semlow, its crew and its cargo."

The London-based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy around the world, said last month that piracy off Somalia was increasing "at an alarming rate," with 20 incidents reported since March, compared to just two in 2004. IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said Tuesday the reasons for the increase were unclear.

The deal for the Asian fisherman was brokered by officials in Somalia's transitional government, including the Minister for Reconstruction Barre Aadan Shire -- whose Juba Valley Alliance controls the region, Bashi said.

Taiwanese officials had asked for international help in contacting the gunmen, and talked to the hostage-takers last week in an effort to negotiate a lower ransom.

Somalia has been without an effective central government since clan-based warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Warlords then turned on each other, plunging the country of 7 million into chaos.
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Old September 8th, 2005, 06:17 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Somalia lies on a major sea trade route. Ships heading between Europe and Sea through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea will pass through the Gulf of Aden. Somalia lies on the south side of that Gulf.

what I meant hk was stop using its ports for docking, refuling etc in doing so they will lose tarifs collection and much other needed revenue that comes along with import export, this way they will hurt economically for the govt to step in.
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Old September 14th, 2005, 01:27 AM   #31
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Malaysia says Malacca Strait safe for ships, plays down attack fears

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 (AFP) - Malaysia on Monday said the Malacca Strait was safe for seafarers, playing down the fears of some regional governments which believe the vital waterway is a tempting target for terrorists.

Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy said joint air patrols with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to be launched Tuesday would further bolster security in the strait.

"The strait is very safe and the agreement is to beef up existing joint efforts in safeguarding the security of the strait," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency.

"To say it's dangerous, exposed to all kinds of threat, it's exaggeration," he added.

Defence ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on Tuesday will sign an agreement to launch the "eye in the skies" air patrols.

The three littoral states of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore have already begun coordinated sea patrols but agreed last month to boost surveillance with joint air patrols.

The Malacca Strait is one of the world's most important waterways, with 50,000 ships carrying about one-third of the globe's trade passing through it each year.

However the strait, 960 kilometres (600 miles) long and 1.2 kilometres wide at its narrowest, is vulnerable to pirate attacks and some governments in the region also believe it is a tempting target for terrorists.

Last month Malaysia urged an international insurance body to remove the Malacca Strait from a list of waterways deemed dangerous, saying ships were safe from terror attacks and piracy was contained.

Malaysia is fast expanding its ports such as Port Klang that sits on the Malacca Strait.

An international insurance body has declared the strait dangerous and some underwriters may impose additional premiums for ships plying the strait, which could affect traffic at Malaysian ports.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has listed the strait, and the waters around Indonesia, as among the world's worst for piracy, and some regional governments believe ships could be targeted by terrorists.

Last year the Malacca Strait recorded 38 pirate attacks, second only to Indonesian waters, which saw 94 attacks, the IMB said.

The Lloyd's Market Association's Joint War Committee in July added the strait to a list of 20 areas worldwide -- alongside Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria -- that it deemed security threats to shipping.

The LMA is an insurance body that advises members of Lloyd's of London.
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Old September 15th, 2005, 08:44 PM   #32
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Somali pirates let hijacked food ship sail

NAIROBI, Sept 15 (AFP) - Somali gunmen who hijacked a UN-chartered vessel carrying food aid for tsunami victims have let the vessel and crew sail to the port of El-Maan, north of the capital Mogadishu, UN officials said Thursday.

But it was not clear whether the boat, MV Semlow, which was hijacked on June 27, would be allowed to return to the home port of Mombasa in Kenya, after offloading about 850 tonnes of German- and Japanese-donated rice in El-Maan port.

Nor were the circumstances that led to the ship's release clear, given a ransom demand that had been put to its owners by the pirates. This has gone without comment from concerned parties.

The vessel and its 10-member crew -- eight Kenyans, a Tanzanian engineer and a Sri Lankan captain -- had been held in the Somali port town of Haradere, about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Mogadishu.

"We can confirm that the ship is on its way to El-Maan and we expect it to take three to five days to get there," UN World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Rene McGuffin told AFP.

The pirates seized the St Vincent and the Grenadines-registered ship which was on its way from Mombasa to Bossaso transporting food to victims of last year's tsunami.

They demanded a ransom of 500,000 dollars (404,000 euros) but it was not known how owners of the ship handled the demand.

"WFP was not asked for ransom," McGuffin said.

She added the UN food body has negotiated with port authorities in El-Mann to ensure a smooth passage of the cargo to the transitional federal government (TFG), which operates from the provincial town of Jowhar, about 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Mogadishu.

"WFP has negotiated with port authorities in El-Maan to facilitate free passage of the food to the central region. The food will be handed over to the TFG," McGuffin added.

Officials refused to confirm the vessel had been definitively released, given the unreliability of hijackers in the shattered African nation that has been wracked by violence since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled in 1991.

Somali officials in the Kenyan capital said the vessel was allowed to sail under a deal struck in July between the transitional administration and the hijackers.

Broadly under the deal, the food would be handed over to the administration, which will in turn distribute it to drought-stricked areas in central and southern Somalia, where interclan fighting has hampered arrival of relief supplies.

"I can confirm that no ransom was paid for the deal," said an official with the Somali administration, who did not want to be named.

Fine details remain shrouded in secrecy, but sources close to both sides said the hijackers were promised rewards.

Kenya's ambassador to Somalia Mohamed Abdi Affey, who runs his office from Nairobi, sounded sceptical, saying freedom for the 10 hostages would be confirmed by their arrival in Mombasa.

"Let us see the people and ship in Kenya. That is the time to trust that they are free," Affey told AFP here.

Since the seizure, hijacker have given false promises of releasing the vessel, only to modify the ransom demands.

Both the International Maritime Board (IMB), a division of the International Chamber of Commerce, and the United States have in recent months issued increasingly dire alerts about threats to shipping off the Somali coast.

In August, the IMB said the coast of Somalia, which had seen few attacks for almost two years, has suffered a resurgence of assaults by pirates with guns and grenades, with nine incidents recorded since mid-July.
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Old September 16th, 2005, 01:25 PM   #33
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Wow, those Somalis are really active. I thought the Phillipines were Pirate hotspots, but it seems that Somalia has taken over this questionable honour.
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Old September 26th, 2005, 04:59 PM   #34
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New ship hijacking reported in pirate-infested waters off Somali coast

MOGADISHU, Sept 26 (AFP) - Somali gunmen who hijacked a UN-chartered food aid vessel in June have seized another commercial ship off the eastern coast of the lawless Horn of Africa nation, militia officials said Monday.

The unidentified freighter, which was transporting cement from Egypt to Somalia when it was seized late Saturday, is being held near the town of Haradere, about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of Mogadishu, along with the UN vessel, they said.

The number of crew on board, the tonnage of the ship's cargo and its registration were not immediately known, they said.

The militia officials and residents of Mogadishu said the owner of the cement cargo had spoken with the captain of the ship. He confirmed the ship was hijacked by the same gunmen who on June 27 seized the MV Semlow, which was transporting rice to Somalia for the World Food Programme (WFP).

Last week, the WFP said the gunmen, who had been demanding a ransom for the release of the St Vincent and the Grenadines-registered Semlow, had reneged on a deal to free the vessel, its 10-man crew and cargo.

Also last week, the US State Department renewed its regional terrorism alert for east Africa, noting in particular increasingly violent attempts by Somali pirates to seize commercial ships.

In its weekly piracy report issued on Tuesday, the International Maritime Bureau said at least 21 attacks had been recorded off the Somali coast since March 15 and urged ships in the area to stay as far as possible from the shore.
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Old October 6th, 2005, 02:50 AM   #35
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Crew tells how pirates hijacked a U.N.-chartered ship for 100 days
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
Associated Press Writer
5 October 2005

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The captain of a U.N.-chartered ship described how 15 gunmen in speedboats took control of the vessel in 15 minutes and held it for 100 days along Somalia's coast, absconding with money but leaving most of its cargo of food intact.

In an exclusive interview Wednesday with Associated Press Television News aboard the MV Semlow, crew members told how they were on a mission to deliver food to Somalia's tsunami victims when speedboats pulled alongside the ship on June 27 and opened fire.

Capt. S. Mahalingam, a Sri Lankan, said that within minutes, 15 gunmen had climbed aboard the ship and taken command of the vessel, which is registered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The pirates demanded that he open the safe before they ransacked the crews' quarters and took anything of value.

Then came the most frightening part for Kenyan crewman Patrick Ogudu, an interrogation of sorts by the nervous pirates.

"The question that scared me the most was when they wanted to know the religion of the people on the ship," said Ogudu, himself a Christian, while standing on the bullet-scarred bridge. "I decided to name myself Abubakar, to be in a safe position."

But as the days passed and the pirates and crew reached an uneasy understanding, Ogudu said he never saw the pirates pray. The only time they appeared to care about Islam was when Ogudu moved a Quran without washing his hands first.

The gunmen were freelance militia men, members of one of Somalia's many criminal gangs who depend on hijacking and kidnapping for money.

Somalia has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, transforming this nation of 7 million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

Some of those militias specialize in setting up toll stations on important roads, others hire themselves out as bodyguards. The young militiamen on the MV Semlow were pirates and they had obviously done this many times before.

The International Maritime Organization has warned most mariners to stay away from Somalia's coast because of the dozens of hijackings that have taken place over the years. The IMO considers the waters among the most dangerous in the world.

But this hijacking was different: It was the first time a United Nations ship had been taken while on a humanitarian mission to Somalia.

The United States and NATO have a maritime task force permanently based in the Arabian Gulf off Somalia and have intervened several times in the last year to save ships under attack by pirates, but they are not allowed to operate within Somalia's territorial waters, and therefore could not help the MS Semlow.

Somalia's 3,025-kilometer (1,880-mile) coastline is the longest in Africa.

The World Food Program suspended food aid to Somalia on July 4 and refused to pay a ransom demanded by the pirates, which they called a fine for violating Somali law. At one point, the gunmen declared themselves to be Somalia's coast guard, though a new transitional government trying to take charge of Somalia disowned the gunmen.

In August, the WFP resumed food aid to the millions of Somalis who depend on the organization for food. The WFP was depending on clan elders to negotiate the unconditional release of the ship, the captain, the Tanzanian engineer and the eight Kenyan crewmen.

On Sept. 14, they thought they had secured a deal for the ship's release, but the pirates apparently decided at the last minute to demand another ransom and instead use the MS Semlow on Sept. 23 to seize an Egyptian ship carrying cement, the MS Ibnu Batuta.

After more negotiations, and after the MS Semlow ran out of fuel, the hijackers eventually allowed the MS Ibnu Batuta to tow the MS Semlow to the port of El Maan. Along the way, the gunmen left the ship by speedboat and the ships were free, with most of the MS Semlow's 850 metric tons (937 tons) of rice still on board.

The WFP issued a statement Wednesday confirming that the ship was indeed safe and the food was being unloaded in El Maan, after which the ship would sail for Kenya.

When the captain was asked whether he had ever seen pirate before in his 20-year career, he laughed out loud. "You think it is a frequent occasion?"

But in Somalia, pirates indeed strike on a regular basis. Another group of Somali gunmen seized 48 Asian fishermen and three vessels near the southern Somali port of Kismayo on Aug. 15. They are still being held hostage.
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Old October 16th, 2005, 10:19 AM   #36
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Somali hijackers release U.N.-chartered ship with food aid
By TOM MALITI
Associated Press Writer
14 October 2005

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Hijackers Friday released a U.N.-chartered ship carrying food aid and a crew of 10 following successful negotiations with a Somali businessman, officials said.

Gunmen released the MV Miltzow after a Somali contractor, hired by the U.N. World Food Program to handle the food aid, negotiated with them, said Karim Kudrati, managing director of Motaku Shipping Agency, the Kenyan company that owns the ship.

Kudrati said he was not aware any ransom was paid.

The crew was unharmed and the food aid was untouched, said Leo van der Velden, the WFP deputy director for Somalia.

The MV Miltzow was the second ship carrying food aid hijacked in Somalia this year, and the agency said it was considering alternative overland routes to transport food aid.

Six gunmen stormed the St. Vincent and the Grenadines-registered ship Wednesday, forcing the crew to leave the port of Merka, 62 miles southwest of Somalia's capital of Mogadishu.

"We are very relieved that the crew are all unharmed and that the food aid is intact," van der Velden said. "Fortunately, this particular shipment is only slightly delayed, but with two hijackings in three months we will have to consider alternatives to secure the safety of both the people and food involved in our operations."

On Thursday, Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi urged neighboring countries to send warships to patrol his lawless nation's waters.

Gedi told The Associated Press that his government -- which has yet to take control of the country -- did not have the resources to protect shipping along Somalia's 1,880-mile coastline, Africa's longest.

Somalia has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, transforming this nation of 7 million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

Gedi's transitional government, formed in 2004 after lengthy peace talks in Kenya, raised some hope for the Horn of Africa country. But members of the transitional government have been fighting among themselves in recent months and have made little progress in establishing themselves, spending much of their time in neighboring Kenya.

Nearly half the MV Miltzow's cargo of 850 tons of food aid was on board when it was seized. The ship was carrying 703 tons of maize, 108 tons of beans and 39 tons of vegetable oil for people living in Somalia's vulnerable Lower Juba Valley.

Kudrati said that the MV Miltzow was sailing back to Merka on Friday to unload the cargo.

The ship had arrived in port Monday from Mombasa, Kenya. Its crew consists of a Kenyan captain, an Ugandan engineer and eight Kenyan crew members.

On June 27, gunman hijacked the MV Semlow and held the vessel for 100 days before it was released Oct. 4. Motaku Shipping Agency then sent a ship to help the MV Semlow with its mechanical problems. That ship was hijacked and is still being held by Somali pirates.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 08:54 AM   #37
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Somalia appeals for international help to combat pirates in its waters
By RODRIQUE NGOWI
22 October 2005

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Somalia's government appealed Saturday for international help to combat pirates, who have used speed boats, automatic weapons and satellite phones to target U.N.-chartered ships and other vessels.

The appeal came a day after the International Maritime Bureau reported an alarming increase in attacks off the southern and eastern coast of Somalia and appealed to U.S. and NATO warships in the region to protect vessels sailing near the Somali coast, an important shipping route connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

Pirates have launched 23 attacks against ships off anarchic Somalia since March 15, the London-based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy around the world, said on its web site.

Somalia has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, transforming this nation of 7 million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

A new transitional government, formed during lengthy peace talks in neighboring Kenya, is struggling to establish itself in Somalia as it faces internal divisions and opposition from Islamic militants and warlords who benefit from the ongoing anarchy.

"Until we establish our own marine force, we want neighboring countries to deploy their navies to protect Somalia's coastline against the pirates," Mohamed Ali Americo, a senior official in the Somali prime minister's office, said as 20 crew members from two hijacked ships arrived in Kenya following pirate attacks. "We need help from all the nations along the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea."

"The pirates use ransom to buy weapons," he told The Associated Press. "Their operations are also intended to destabilize and discredit the transitional government now that it has relocated to Somalia."

A Hong Kong-based company that owns Feisty Gas, a liquefied petroleum gas tanker that was seized on April 10, paid US$315,000 (euro262,200) to a representative of the Somali hijackers in Mombasa, Kenya, according to a recent U.N. report.

Pirates who seized 48 Asian fishermen and their three vessels on Aug. 15 are still holding them captive near the southern Somali port of Kismayo.

Somali pirates are trained fighters, often dressed in military fatigues, using speedboats equipped with satellite phones and Global Positioning System equipment. They are typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and various types of grenades, according to the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia.

"That is what makes them very dangerous and we are appealing for help," Americo said.

Somalia, which has the longest coast in Africa at 3,025-kilometer (1,880-mile), lies along key shipping lanes linking the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The United States and NATO have warships in the region to protect vessels in the deeper waters farther from shore, but they are not permitted to operate in Somalia's territorial waters.

"These attacks take place in international waters and we call upon the naval vessels in the region to come to the assistance of the hijacked ships," according to the International Maritime Bureau.

"At the very least, they can prevent the hijackers from taking these ships into Somali waters. Once the vessels have entered these waters the chances of any law enforcement response is negligible."
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 03:45 PM   #38
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Pirates Seize Ukrainian Ship Off Somalia Coast For Ransom
21 October 2005

KIEV (AP)--Pirates seized a Ukrainian cargo ship off Somalia's coast for ransom, and Ukrainian authorities have initiated negotiations with the hijackers, a Foreign Ministry official said Friday.

Pirates hijacked the vessel, Panagia, on Tuesday with 22 crew members on board about 100 miles off the Somali coast, and demanded a $700,000 ransom.

The ship, owned by a company from Ukraine's southern city of Odessa, was sailing under a Liberian flag and was carrying iron ore from South Africa to Turkey.

The ship is currently anchored just over two miles off Somalia's east coast, ministry spokesman Dmytro Svystkov said.

"We have spoken with the captain of the ship...all the Ukrainian citizens are alive and well," he said. "The crew can move around the ship, but they are under permanent control by the pirates."

Ukraine has ordered its diplomats to ask the authorities of France, the U.K. and U.S., as well as North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials, to "review all the options for freeing the ship and the crew," Svystkov said.

Piracy is rampant near the coast of Somalia, which is torn by renewed clashes between militias fighting over control of the troubled African country of 7 million.
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Old October 23rd, 2005, 03:46 PM   #39
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Search for Greek oil tanker missing in pirate-infested Somalia waters

ATHENS, Oct 21 (AFP) - A search was underway Friday for a Greek oil tanker that has been out of contact since sending out an alert in pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia, the Greek merchant marine ministry said.

The Maltese-flagged San Carlos sent out an alert on Thursday, but attempts to contact the ship with its Greek captain and 24 sailors of various nationalities have failed.

"There is a problem, but we can't confirm for the moment if it was an act of piracy, because that type of signal is sent in case of a conflict on board or other problems," a ministry official told AFP.

Signals from the ship indicate it is some 84 nautical miles off the Somali coast, at a location still on its planned course, said the official on condition of anonymity.

Maltese and Somalian authorities began searching for the vessel after the distress call on Thursday, the official said.

Another Maltese-flagged vessel, the MV Pagania, was seized by gunmen on Wednesday off Somalia's coast who have demanded a 700,000-dollar (583,000-euro) ransom for its release.

Piracy has become epidemic in the unpatrolled waters off the coast of Somalia, where at least 23 hijackings and attempted seizures have been recorded since mid-March, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Somalia has had no functioning central administration for the past 14 years and last week the prime minister of the country's fledgling and largely powerless transitional government appealed for help from neighboring countries to patrol its waters.
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Old October 24th, 2005, 08:31 AM   #40
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Nigerian navy plans more bases in Niger Delta to check oil smuggling, sea piracy
22 October 2005

Text of report by Kelvin Ebiri entitled "Navy plans more bases in Niger Delta "published by Nigerian newspaper The Guardian website on 22 October

To check illegal oil bunkering and sea piracy in the Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy plans to establish two additional operational bases in the area, the Chief of Navy Staff Vice-Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye said yesterday.

The new bases would be sited in Bonny in Rivers State and Egwuama in Bayelsa State. to protect the nation's oil facilities and the creeks as well as the waterways. Vice-Admiral Adekeye stated this during a meeting he held with officers and men of the NNS Pathfinder during a two day familiarization tour of Naval ships, establishment and units in Rivers State yesterday.

He explained that it was the responsibility of the navy to protect the nation's interest in the deep sea, coastal, shore and other economic zones within the territorial waterways. This was why government provided the navy with new patrol boats and fighting ships, to boost it operations in the region.

Unveiling his agenda for the navy, Adekeye said his efforts would be geared on the implementation of six cardinal programmes: operation, training, logistics, welfare, relationship with other members of the armed forces, loyalty and discipline,

He demanded all hands to be on deck and to exhibit a high degree of commitment, and embrace the challenges in the reform.

He urged the officers not to allow other arm of the armed forces to take over their responsibility.

Adekeye also called for discipline, loyalty and hard work, which he described as the bedrock of the navy. adding that officers who did not possess these virtues had no place in the navy.

Similarly, the Rivers State governor, Peter Odili, said the state would continue to cooperate with the navy to ensure the safety of the nation's shores and waterways, for investors and others doing business offshore.

Odili gave the assurance when the naval chief visited him at the government house, Port Harcourt.

Source: The Guardian website, Lagos, in English 22 Oct 05
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