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Old December 7th, 2005, 02:23 AM   #61
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Fifty attacks predicted off east Africa over next year
MIG sees Somalian waters as high-risk area, writes Thomas Turner
6 December 2005
Lloyd's List

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has been repeatedly hitting the headlines over the past month following an attempted attack on the Seabourn Spirit , a luxury cruiseship some 100 miles out to sea.

But while an attack on a luxury passenger vessel represents a shift in target for the pirates — and certainly grabs public attention — the lack of security in Somalian waters has been a problem for some time. Indeed, repeated attacks by pirates on merchant vessels throughout the year have led MIG to steadily increase its risk rating for the waters.

The MIG Marine Piracy Assessment now predicts around 50 attacks taking place along the East African coastline in the next 12 months.

In the month leading up to the November 5 attacks, no less than five incidents of piracy were recorded by the International Maritime Bureau in Somalian waters. These included the hijacking of a UN food aid cargoship, a bulk carrier and a product tanker. And in the days following, two further incidents were reported: the hijacking of a general cargo ship and an armed attack on a ro-ro that left the bridge windows riddled with bullet holes.

The large distances from the Somali coastline at which many of these attacks have been reported have led to concerns that pirates may be launching operations from an offshore “mother ship”. The small, fast, vessels typically used in attacks have a limited range and as such, attacks over a hundred miles off a coastline are unusual.

This putative increase in sophistication and the growing frequency of attack has brought mounting calls for an increase in security. Sure enough, on November 25, Top Cat Marine Security announced it had been awarded a $50m contract by the transitional Somali government to provide anti-piracy operations in the waters.

However, it is unclear at this stage exactly what the scope of the New York City-based company’s operations will be, and whether it will be actively hunting down pirates or simply providing security escorts for high-value cargoes.

The former of these possibilities has raised significant concerns about the legality and legitimacy of a private security company actively hunting down criminals, not least due to the US and UN embargoes on arms into Somalia. The latter possibility, however, seems unlikely to provide a significant long-term solution to the problem, dealing as it does with the symptoms rather than the causes of the problem.

But it is the causes of the problem that will prove trickiest to tackle. Somalia is a state in disarray. With a government that was until recently exiled in Nairobi and is now split between Jowhar and Mogadishu, there is little effective government and power is effectively split between warlords. Security and the rule of law are barely existent and progress, through a UN-backed programme, is painfully slow.

An assassination attempt during a visit by Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi to Mogadishu in early November left five people dead and provided a stark illustration of the depth of the problem.

With local warlords believed to be financing and profiting from pirate operations, the problem runs to the heart of Somalia’s governance crisis. Whether a private security firm can enter such an arena and bring about lasting security improvements to the country’s coastline remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a tall order.

MIG’s Piracy Threat Assessment is a new tool designed to assist its clients in the marine and insurance industries in understanding the risks posed to their shipping/marine operations. It is one of a variety of bespoke services that MIG provides to facilitate the identification, understanding and minimisation of risk exposure across a number of industries world-wide.

Thomas Turner is an analyst at The Merchant International Group, specialists in strategic research and corporate intelligence. Contact: +44 (0)20 7259 5060, email: [email protected], web: www.merchantinternational.com .
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Old December 7th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #62
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U.S. to donate old ships to Indonesia to help secure Malacca Strait, official says
7 December 2005
Associated Press Newswires

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - The U.S. Navy plans to donate ships to Indonesia to help it patrol the Malacca Strait, a strategic Southeast Asian waterway seen at risk of terrorist attack, Indonesia's defense minister said Wednesday.

Juwono Sudarsono described the U.S. offer as "still an informal one."

State news agency Antara quoted him as saying on Tuesday that the ships would include Landing Ship Tanks more than 40 years old and inflatable boats.

Landing Ship Tanks, or LSTs, are naval ships especially designed to transport and deploy troops, vehicles, and supplies onto shore. They were first used in World War II.

"I don't know how many ships there will be, but they will be used ones ... which will be used to strengthen security in the Malacca Straits," Sudarsono said.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman declined immediate comment.

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

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

Last month, the United States lifted a six-year long arms embargo on Indonesia as a reward for its cooperation in the war on terror. The ban was originally imposed to protest alleged human rights abuses by Indonesian troops.

Indonesia has since said it will buy Hercules transport aircraft from the United States.

Before the ban, the United States was Indonesia's chief military supplier.
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Old December 7th, 2005, 06:00 PM   #63
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Thai oil tanker escapes hijack attempt off northeast Somalia

NAIROBI, Dec 7 (AFP) - A Thai-owned tanker believed to have been hijacked in the pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast this week managed to escape its attackers after coming under heavy fire, a maritime official said Wednesday.

The MT Sirichai Petroluem 2, which was delivering fuel to Thai fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean and was reportedly seized on Tuesday, took evasive action and then sped away from the pirates, the official said.

"The ship was ... fired on by gunmen in a speedboat, but it managed to outrun them and sped on," said Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme (SAP) that initially reported the incident.

The tanker and its 10-strong crew are safe and continuing with their journey, he told AFP.

Until Tuesday, the International Maritime Board (IMB) had recorded 32 attacks by increasingly brazen pirates on vessels off the unpatrolled coast of laweless north and northeast Somalia since March 15.

Those include a November 5 attack on a US-owned luxury ocean liner and the successful hijackings of two UN-chartered freighters carrying food aid and another Thai-owned ship, the MV Laemthong Glory, that is still being held.

In addition to the Laemthong Glory, Somali pirates are still holding three Taiwanese fishing boats and their combined crews of 48 sailors.

The spate of attacks has prompted dire warnings for mariners to stay away at least 200 nautical miles (230 miles, 370 kilometers) from the coast and sparked calls for Somali waters to be declared a war zone.

Somalia has had no functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre and pirates have increasingly taken advantage of the lack of authority to ply the 3,700 kilometer (2,300 mile) coast.

The country's fledgling and largely powerless transitional government, which in October appealed for foreign navies to intervene, last month signed a deal with a US maritime security firm to help fight the pirates.
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Old December 12th, 2005, 06:17 AM   #64
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Territory no longer an issue in Malacca Strait security
12 December 2005
The Jakarta Post

Four Southeast Asian countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand -- are expected to soon agree on a standard operating procedure (SOP) in securing the pirate-infested Strait of Malacca, according to a senior official.

Chief of the Indonesian Navy's western fleet Rear Adm. Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno said on Saturday that under the SOP, patrol boats from each country could enter each other's water territory when chasing pirates, but needed to refrain from taking military action or opening fire.

Tedjo said that in the past, cross-border pursuit had been hampered by the territory issue.

"But once the SOP is signed, it will be a different story," he was quoted by state news agency Antara as saying.

The Strait of Malacca, a narrow 805-kilometer waterway is used by some 50,000 ships a year carrying a quarter of global trade and nearly all oil imports for Japan and China. But ships have often been targeted by pirates, and recently there have been fears it could become a target for a terror attack.

The three littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore launched coordinated sea patrols of the strait last year, but piracy and robbery have remained rampant and they are under pressure from major users such as Japan and the United States to step up security. The three states later invited Thailand, as a close neighbor, to conduct a joint patrol of the strait.

Elsewhere, Tedjo said in addition to the sea patrol, the "Eyes in the Sky" coordinated air patrol by the four countries was recently launched.

Under the program, the personnel or aircraft of each country could also enter each other's territory, but the limit was set at three nautical miles from the coast, he said.

Tedjo also said that governments of user countries, such as the U.S. and Japan, were expected to soon deliver promised assistance, including in the form of equipment and training.

Compared to the past two years, security in the Strait of Malacca, however, seems to be improving.

Pottengal Mukundan, London-based director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), said there was a dramatic reduction in attacks on ships in the strategic waterway this year, thanks to intensified efforts by Indonesia to boost naval and air patrols.

Mukundan said Indonesia launched large-scale sea and air patrols in July to enforce maritime security in the strait in an operation code-named Gurita 2005.

As a result, there was a sharp drop in attacks to 10 in the first nine months of 2005 from 25 in the same period of 2004.

The figures for the first few months of 2005 were also affected by the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami, which devastated parts of Indonesia and also curtailed pirates' activities.
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Old December 13th, 2005, 12:55 AM   #65
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Commons to investigate impact of piracy on UK.
12 December 2005
Lloyd's List

UK MPs are to hold an inquiry into the issue of piracy on the high seas, the House of Commons transport committee has announced, writes David Osler.

Although the investigation will necessarily cover international aspects of the problem, there will be some focus on the impact on UK shipping in particular. Indeed, the committee claims that Britain itself is not immune from piracy.

It maintains there have been two piracy incidents in British ports since 1993, both taking place in Goole, East Yorkshire, in July 2002.

In the first case, robbers broke into the master’s cabin while an unnamed ship was berthed, stealing $7,000.

The second incident, almost three weeks later, also saw the theft of cash and crew belongings.

However, the term is being used loosely here, as the robberies did not take place outside territorial waters.

The inquiry, to be chaired by Labour stalwart Gwyneth Dunwoody, will examine the reason for the increase in piracy in recent decades, and how it is affecting British shipping in particular.

Other topics include guidance from national governments and international organisations, and how they are tackling the threat.

There will also be consideration of “geographic areas of special concern”, almost certainly a reference to Somalia.

Word of the inquiry was welcomed across the industry. Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau said: “It is a good thing. It raises the profile of piracy.”

The Chamber of Shipping said it looked forward to working with the committee.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 04:43 AM   #66
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Safe passage in Asia's key sea lanes
16 December 2005
South China Morning Post

In a series of steps over the past 18 months, coastal states flanking the main shipping straits through Southeast Asia have taken more effective measures to guard against piracy and terrorism. This provides reassurance to China that the US military will not be directly involved in securing a key waterway that carries about three-quarters of Chinese oil imports.

As a result, Beijing appears to be taking a more relaxed attitude towards countries like India and Australia, which have close ties to the United States, taking part in patrols of regional waters with the agreement of Southeast Asian governments. And, for the first time, Beijing has offered to provide aid to regional countries that want to improve their maritime safety and security.

Beijing's main concern is to ensure that its vital energy and trade supply lines through the Malacca and Singapore straits are not disrupted. It wants countries close to the Southeast Asian waterway to provide protection, thus keeping the US at arm's length.

This may include India, which has recently improved its relations with China as well as the US. India has naval and air bases in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, near the western end of the Malacca Strait. The Chinese ambassador to India, Sun Yuxi , reportedly said in October that although Beijing did not favour powers from outside Southeast Asia patrolling regional waters, "as far as India is concerned, we don't have a problem". But Mr Sun added that if the Americans "come and put their battleships there, we might worry about it".

In March last year, amid rising concern about pirate attacks and possible terrorist strikes against shipping in the Malacca and Singapore straits, a senior US military commander caused controversy when he suggested that US special forces or marines in high-speed vessels might be sent in to "conduct effective interdiction".

The warning underlined the strategic importance of the straits to many countries outside Southeast Asia, including the US, Japan and China. It also prompted the three coastal states flanking the straits - Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore - to take measures to tighten security in the waterway and ensure that their sovereign control was not challenged. The shipping lanes run through their national waters for a substantial distance.

In their latest step to keep the straits safe, the armed forces of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and nearby Thailand have agreed to allow their patrol ships to cross into each other's waters to pursue pirates, terrorists or other maritime criminals. The four had earlier agreed to mount co-ordinated warship patrols in their own waters in the straits and, more recently, to launch air patrols along the waterway - which is over 960km long and used by nearly 170 big ships every day, on average.

Australia last week reached an outline agreement with Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to add Australian maritime aircraft to the air patrols, saying that each flight would carry observers from one of the three coastal states. For their part, the US and Japan have offered to provide vessels to Indonesia to beef up its naval patrol capacity.

Ju Chengzhi, the director-general of the Ministry of Transport, has said Beijing supported the efforts, and the dominant role of the coastal states, in safeguarding sovereignty and security in the straits. "However," he added, "we have also been aware that the littoral states are facing increasing challenges from the continuing growth of maritime traffic in the straits and that their resources are being strained." Michael Richardson is a visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore. This is a personal comment
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Old December 19th, 2005, 10:48 PM   #67
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Ghost Guard brought in to spook pirates
19 December 2005
Lloyd's List

UNMANNED robotic vessels could play a crucial role in the fight against piracy, a manufacturer has claimed, writes David Osler.

A new unit of this type, produced by Florida-based Marine Robotic Vessels International, is able to mount patrols along pre-programmed routes, under the supervision of a human controller ashore.

The product, known as Ghost Guard, will also be able to escort ships through dangerous waters.

Video and other equipment will allow the supervisor to check out nearby vessels.

Keith Henderson of MRV told the BBC that Ghost Guard could use a loudspeaker and microphone to address the crew of suspicious craft.

Where the suspicions prove justified, naval patrol boats could then be alerted.

“If the vessel gets lost or damaged or sunk, then there’s no loss of life,” Mr Henderson added.

Because robot craft are essentially dispensable, they will also be able to tackle such other maritime menaces as people smuggling.

“If the navy has to stop, the robotic vessel can continue the chase right back to its harbour,” says Mr Henderson.
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Old January 23rd, 2006, 04:22 PM   #68
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U.S. Navy Seizes Pirate Ship Off Somalia
By JIM KRANE
22 January 2006

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, the Navy said Sunday. The 16 Indians and 10 Somali men were aboard a traditional dhow that was chased and seized Saturday by the U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill, said Lt. Leslie Hull-Ryde of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

The dhow stopped fleeing after the Churchill twice fired warning shots during the chase, which ended 54 miles off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said. U.S. sailors boarded the dhow and seized a cache of small arms.

The dhow's crew and passengers were being questioned Sunday aboard the Churchill to determine which were pirates and which were legitimate crew members, Hull-Ryde said.

Sailors aboard the dhow told Navy investigators that pirates hijacked the vessel six days ago near Mogadishu and thereafter used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

The Churchill is part of a multinational task force patrolling the western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa region to thwart terrorist activity and other lawlessness during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Navy said it captured the dhow in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur on Friday that said pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 200 miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

Hull-Ryde said the Navy was still investigating the incident and would discuss with international authorities what to do with the detained men.

"The disposition of people and vessels involved in acts of piracy on the high seas are based on a variety of factors, including the offense, the flags of the vessels, the nationalities of the crew, and others," Hull-Ryde said in an e-mail.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which is torn by renewed clashes between militias fighting over control of the troubled African country. Many shipping companies resort to paying ransoms, saying they have few alternatives.

Last month, Somali militiamen finally relinquished a merchant ship hijacked in October.

In November, Somali pirates freed a Ukrainian ore carrier and its 22 member crew after holding it for 40 days. It was unclear whether a US$700,000 ransom demanded by the pirates had been paid.

One of the boldest recent attacks was on Nov. 5, when two boats full of pirates approached a cruise ship carrying Western tourists, about 100 miles off Somalia and fired rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.

The crew used a weapon that directs earsplitting noise at attackers, then sped away.

Somalia has had no effective government since 1991, when warlords ousted a dictatorship and then turned on each other, carving the nation of 8.2 million into a patchwork of fiefdoms.
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Old January 24th, 2006, 06:42 AM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline
Hull-Ryde said the Navy was still investigating the incident and would discuss with international authorities what to do with the detained men.

"The disposition of people and vessels involved in acts of piracy on the high seas are based on a variety of factors, including the offense, the flags of the vessels, the nationalities of the crew, and others," Hull-Ryde said in an e-mail.
Pirates are considered hostis humanis generis and may be tried by any nation and dealt with as that nation sees fit.
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Old January 26th, 2006, 03:08 AM   #70
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Undaunted Somali pirates hijack new vessel after US seizure

NAIROBI, Jan 25, 2006 (AFP) - Pirates have hijacked yet another merchant ship off the coast of lawless Somalia despite the US Navy's seizure there last week of a suspected pirate vessel, maritime officials said Wednesday.

In a sign that a year-old spate of brazen piracy in Somali waters may be far from over, boat-borne gunmen attacked the ship on Sunday, just a day after a US naval destroyer tracked down and seized their alleged colleagues, they said.

"Pirates armed with guns hijacked a general cargo ship underway," the International Maritime Board (IMB) said in the latest edition of its weekly piracy reports.

"They fired warning shots and threatened the 20 crew members," it said. "They are demanding a ransom for the release of the crew and ship."

The report from the Kuala Lumpur-based IMB gave no further details of the incident but maritime officials in east Africa said they understood the ship carried the flag of the United Arab Emirates.

Sunday's incident was the 38th reported attack on commercial shipping off the unpatrolled Somali coast since March but the first since the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet ordered action against the pirates.

A day earlier, after getting a tip from the IMB about an attempted hijacking and shadowing the suspect vessel overnight, the USS Winston Churchill fired warning shots at and intercepted a dhow carrying a band of suspected pirates about 55 miles (85 kilometers) off Somalia's central eastern coast.

On boarding the ship, US sailors discovered a number of small weapons believed to have been used in pirate attacks and took 26 people -- 16 Indians and 10 Somalis -- into custody for questioning.

According to the IMB, which said it was briefed on the US operation, some of the men said their ship had itself been hijacked by pirates who were using it to stage attacks on merchant vessels in the region.

Although US Navy ships have intervened in hijacking incidents in the area in the past, including firing warning shots at pirate ships, Saturday's was the first in which they seized a suspect vessel or its crew.

Many in the region saw it as an indication the United States was prepared to become more involved in patrolling the waters following appeals from Somalia's largely powerless transitional government last year for international help.

Somalia has had no functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre and pirates have increasingly taken advantage of the lack of authority to ply the 3,700 kilometer (2,300 mile) coast.

The surge in attacks has prompted dire warnings for mariners to stay at least 200 nautical miles (230 miles, 370 kilometers) from the coast and sparked calls for the area to be declared a war zone.
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Old January 28th, 2006, 05:47 AM   #71
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Somali pirate demands release of US-captured comrades
By Mohamed Ali Bile

MOGADISHU, Jan 27 (Reuters) - A Somali pirate has demanded the release of "comrades" captured by the U.S. Navy last week, threatening to kill hostages in the future if the call was not heeded, according to media reports on Friday.

Acting on a report of an attempted attack, U.S. Navy sailors pursued and caught a ship near Mogadishu with 10 Somali pirates on board and 16 Indians believed to be hostages.

"The Americans should release the 10 men they are holding," said Garaad Mohamud Mohamed, who told Shabeelle radio he was speaking on behalf of the captured pirates.

"If they don't we will kill any hostages we capture and attack any ships unlawfully plying our waters."

Two Somali ministers dismissed Mohamed's threat saying the latest arrests were part of a government plan to fight piracy along Somalia's long coastline.

"We don't recognise him. He cannot do anything," Information Minister Hayr told Reuters in Nairobi.

"The government is aware of the arrests and is coordinating with the Americans on this matter."

Piracy has become endemic in the unpatrolled waters off the coast of lawless Somalia, where dozens of hijackings and attempted seizures have been reported since mid-March.

The wave of attacks has badly shaken merchant shipping which relies heavily on key international trade routes that snake down Somalia's coastline -- Africa's longest. The attacks have also hampered efforts to get aid to Somalia.

In November, the Somali government signed a two-year deal worth $50 million with a U.S. marine security firm in a bid to end piracy.

Somalia collapsed into anarchy in 1991 when rival warlords overthrew military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Many militias controlled by powerful warlords smuggle drugs, weapons and people by road, sea and air around the region, experts say.

Piracy is a lucrative and increasingly popular offshoot of this illicit trade. (Additional reporting by Guled Mohamed in Nairobi)
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Old January 30th, 2006, 06:55 AM   #72
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Three more hijacked Taiwanese fishing boats freed in Somalia

TAIPEI, Jan 30, 2006 (AFP) - Three more Taiwanese fishing boats hijacked off Somalia last year were released with their 62 crew at the weekend, an official here said Monday.

The vessels -- the Cheng Ching Feng, Hsin Lien Feng 36, and Feng Rong 16 -- were among four ships seized by Somali pirates. The Chung Yi 218 had been freed last Thursday.

"The three ships have set sail from Somalia, and the crew are all safe," said Taiwan foreign ministry spokesman Michel Lu.

The four vessels carried a total of 62 crew from Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam. The Feng Rong 16 had been hijacked in November and the other three in August last year.

Somali pirates reportedly had threatened to kill dozens of them unless the shipowners paid ransoms of some 500,000 US dollars per boat. Lu declined to say whether the shipowners had paid any money.

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 warlords and clan militia chiefs.

On January 22, pirates hijacked another merchant ship, believed to be registered in the United Arab Emirates, off the Somali coast.
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Old January 31st, 2006, 05:50 AM   #73
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US turns over Somali pirate suspects to Kenya for prosecution

MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 30, 2006 (AFP) - The US military has turned over 10 suspected Somali pirates seized in a naval operation off the coast of lawless Somalia this month to Kenyan authorities who interrogated them on Monday and may charge them, officials said.

The suspects, who were captured by the US Navy's Fifth Fleet on January 21 after unsuccessfully attacking a merchant ship the previous day, were flown by US military planes to Kenya's port city of Mombasa on Sunday and questioned by police, they said.

"They are being questioned, we shall charge them in court at the appropriate time," a Mombasa police official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

The official and others said the US Navy had turned over weapons -- rocket launchers and and rifles -- seized from the alleged pirates to assist in their prosecution.

Initially, they could face kidnapping and weapons charges, the officials said.

The gunmen were aboard an Indian dhow when they were captured by the USS Winston Churchill, a guided missile destroyer, that intercepted them about 55 miles (85 kilometers) off Somalia's central eastern coast and fired warning shots after they attempted to hijack a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier, MV Delta Ranger.

The 16-member crew of the dhow said the pirates had hijacked their vessel and were using it as a "mother ship" from which to attack ships in smaller speedboats.

"They mistreated us," said Akbar Khanna, a translator for the Indian crew that was also brought to Mombasa and was on Monday awaiting clearance to sail to Dubai.

The seizure of the alleged pirates comes amid a surge in hijackings off the coast of Somalia where the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported 37 attacks on ships since mid-March of last year.

Although US Navy ships have intervened in pirate attacks in the area in the past, including firing warning shots, the February 21 incident was the first in which a suspect vessel or its crew were actually taken into custody.

Many in the region saw it as an indication the United States was prepared to become more involved in patrolling the waters following appeals from Somalia's largely powerless transitional government last year for international help.

Somalia has had no functioning central administration since the 1991 ouster of strongman Mohamed Siad Barre and pirates have increasingly taken advantage of the lack of authority to ply the 3,700 kilometer (2,300 mile) coast.

The surge in attacks has prompted dire warnings for mariners to stay at least 200 nautical miles (230 miles, 370 kilometers) from the coast and sparked calls for the area to be declared a war zone.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 08:17 AM   #74
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Ten Somalis charged with piracy in Kenyan court
3 February 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) - Ten Somali men were charged in a Kenyan court with piracy on Friday for attacking a dhow in the Indian Ocean, detaining and threatening its 16-member crew and demanding a ransom from the captain.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which has no effective government of its own to respond. The 10 Somali suspects had been captured by the U.S. Navy in international waters.

A court interpreter read out the charges in Somali to the men, who were not represented and have been in Kenyan police custody since Sunday when the U.S. Navy presented them to authorities in the East African nation.

Hassan Mohammed Ahmed, one of the 10 suspected pirates, said that they are innocent and did not know why they were in court.

Principal Magistrate Beatrice Jaden ordered the government to hire a lawyer for them before the 10 men return for the next court appearance, on Monday.

Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Margaret Mwangi said that this is the first time a piracy case will be tried in Kenya and asked Jaden to speed up the hearings because witnesses such as the dhow's Indian crew and sailors of the U.S. Navy would like to continue with their journey.

The U.S. Navy boarded the vessel on Jan. 22 in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur two days earlier that said pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

The dhow's crew later told Navy investigators that pirates hijacked the vessel on Jan. 16 near Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, and thereafter used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

Somalia has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other, leaving the Horn of Africa nation of 7 million a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms.
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Old February 8th, 2006, 08:03 PM   #75
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Kenyan Court Lacks Jurisdiction In Piracy Case - Lawyers
8 February 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP)--Lawyers for 10 Somalis accused of piracy argued Wednesday a Kenyan court has no legal authority to try the suspects because they aren't its citizens, the alleged offense occurred in international waters and the victims weren't Kenyan nationals.

The accused first appeared in court Monday and were charged with attacking a vessel, a traditional dhow, in the Indian Ocean, detaining and threatening its 16-member Indian crew and demanding a ransom from the captain.

Defense lawyer Moses Waweru argued Wednesday prosecutors couldn't charge the suspects with piracy in Kenya because the country hasn't passed local laws that would make it possible to charge them under the U.N. Conventions of the Law of the Sea.

Assistant Deputy Director of Prosecution Margaret Mwangi, however, argued Kenyan law recognized the offense of piracy and the country was bound to try the suspects under the provisions of the U.N. of the Law of the Sea. The magistrate will rule on the arguments Thursday.

The suspected pirates were detained by U.S. sailors, who boarded the vessel Jan. 22 in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur that two days earlier pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier 320 kilometers off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

The dhow's crew later told investigators pirates hijacked them Jan. 16 near Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, and used their boat to attack merchant ships.

The U.S. Navy handed the suspect over to Kenyan authorities Jan. 29.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which has no effective government of its own to respond. The Horn of African nation has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other.
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Old February 14th, 2006, 04:39 PM   #76
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Somali Piracy Trial Begins In Kenya
14 February 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP)--The trial of 10 Somalis charged with piracy began in a Kenyan courtroom Tuesday, with the captain of a hijacked ship saying that the suspects tried to use his ship to seize three others before they were captured by the U.S. Navy.

Akbar Ali Suleiman, master of the India-based Safina Al Bisaarat, described to the court how his ship was taken two days after leaving the Somali port of Kismayo en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The suspects intercepted his ship 450 kilometers at sea. He said he was awoken by his crew when the suspects approached in two boats and he tried to outrun them.

"I immediately instructed my engineer to increase the speed of the ship because I knew we were under attack since we were in a pirate prone zone," he said.

The suspects in the speedboats caught up with the ship, and armed with pistols, assault rifles and anti-tank weapons, eight of them boarded the ship, Suleiman told the court.

"Once inside, the eight people started beating and threatening us and making demands," he said. "One of them pushed me on the side and beat me up asking me to produce satellite phones and $50,000, which I did not have."

Over the next few days, the suspects tried to use Safina Al Bisaarat to capture other ships, but they were either to high, or too fast, Suleiman said.

"On all those days, there was continuous torture, the accused were feeding on our food and were not allowing us to eat anything, but our cook could secretly feed us," he said. "On the fifth day we saw a U.S. Navy helicopter circling our ship and on the following day the U.S. Marines approached us using their ship and started hooting continuously."

Suleiman said he and his crew hid under their cargo of charcoal when the U.S. frigate began firing warning shots. Eventually the pirates stopped the ship, and U.S. forces boarded the vessel.

The suspected pirates were detained by the U.S. sailors who boarded the vessel on Jan. 22 in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur two days earlier that pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was 320 kilometers off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

The U.S. Navy handed the suspect over to Kenyan authorities Jan. 29.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which has no effective government of its own to respond. The Horn of African nation has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other.

The trial was expected to continue Wednesday.
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Old February 16th, 2006, 09:10 PM   #77
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Somali pirates threw weapons into the sea after spotting U.S. Navy ship, witness says
15 February 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) - Ten Somali pirates who hijacked an Indian-based ship threw their most lethal weapons into the sea when they spotted a U.S. Navy ship, a witness told a Kenyan court Wednesday.

Akbar Ali Suleiman, master of the Safina Al Bisaarat, said the pirates hid other weapons in one of their boats that they used in the raid, but U.S. sailors who intervened to end the hijacking found them.

Suleiman's ship was seized by pirates two days after leaving the Somali port of Kismayo en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

"They were also shooting (rocket-propelled grenades) at our vessel which was loaded with charcoal and there was a risk of it exploding since the charcoal was flammable," he told the Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Beatrice Jaden.

"I was also not able to send out any distress signal because although our vessel was in motion, the generator had been switched off and it had to be in operation if any of us wanted to communicate," he said.

The suspected pirates were detained by the U.S. sailors who boarded the vessel on Jan. 22 in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur two days earlier that pirates had fired on the MV Delta Ranger, a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

Suleiman said he and his crew hid under their cargo of charcoal when the U.S. frigate began firing warning shots. Eventually the pirates stopped the ship, and U.S. forces boarded the vessel.

The U.S. Navy handed the suspect over to Kenyan authorities on Jan. 29.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which has no effective government of its own to respond. The Horn of African nation has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other.

The trial was expected to continue Thursday.
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Old February 17th, 2006, 06:07 PM   #78
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U.S. Navy officer testifies in Kenyan court against 10 Somalis accused of piracy
17 February 2006

MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) - A U.S. Navy officer testified in a Kenyan court Friday against 10 Somali men accused of piracy, saying U.S. sailors detained the suspects after firing warning shots that forced their vessel to stop.

Lt. Lucas Michael Grant told the court that the U.S. sailors, who are part of an anti-terrorism task force based in Djibouti, detained the 10 Somalis on Jan. 22 in an operation involving U.S. military helicopters and a warship that fired several warning shots.

Grant said the U.S. troops, who were responding to a hijacking report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, tracked down an Indian-based vessel that the suspected pirates had taken over and were using to attack other ships.

Days earlier, the Somalis used the hijacked ship in a failed attack on the MV Delta Ranger, a bulk carrier sailing under the flag of the Bahamas, when it was 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the eastern coast of Somalia, Grant said.

After tracking down and monitoring the ship overnight, U.S. troops attempted to call over the radio and a loud speaker to the vessel, the Safina Al Bisaarat, but received no response, Grant said.

"Our ship then fired warning shots and the vessel stopped but there was still no response from the crew inside," he said.

The ship's captive crew members later displayed signs indicating a radio frequency which they would use to communicate. Another had the word "help" written on it, Grant said.

The sailors then asked the Somalis to surrender, and the 10 suspected pirates and 16 crew members boarded the U.S. ship.

The ship's Indian captain told the U.S. sailors that his vessel had been hijacked two days after leaving the Somali port of Kismayo en route to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Grant said.

U.S. sailors who searched the ship found an AK-47 assault rifle, he said.

The American troops had also planned to search a skiff the vessel was towing, but called it off when they discovered cylindrical objects they believed were explosives, Grant said.

The U.S. Navy handed the suspects over to Kenyan authorities on Jan. 29.

Piracy is rampant off the coast of Somalia, which has no effective government of its own to respond. The Horn of Africa nation has been in chaos since opposition leaders ousted a dictatorship in 1991 and then turned on each other.
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Old February 20th, 2006, 06:56 AM   #79
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Indonesian pirates jailed for attack on Malaysian tanker: report

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20, 2006 (AFP) - Nine Indonesians, mainly from the tsunami-hit province of Aceh, have been jailed for seven years for a pirate attack on a Malaysian-owned tanker, local media said Monday.

The Sessions Court on Sunday sentenced the group for carrying out the armed, pre-dawn attack on the Nepline Delima off the northern resort island of Langkawi in the Malacca Strait last June.

The tanker was carrying 12 million ringgit (3.23 million dollars') worth of diesel from Malaysia's Port Klang to Myanmar when it was boarded.

The attack was foiled when a quick-thinking crewman from the tanker leapt into the piractes' boat and sped off to alert police.

Court officials were not immediately available to confirm the report Monday.

The Malacca Strait, separating the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malay peninsula, is one of the world's most important waterways, with 50,000 ships carrying about one-third of world trade passing through it each year.

It is notoriously vulnerable to pirate attacks.
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Old February 27th, 2006, 12:27 AM   #80
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Somali pirates seize another Indian dhow

NAIROBI, Feb 26, 2006 (AFP) - Gunmen on Sunday hijacked an Indian dhow with 25 crew members in the high seas off Somalia's pirate-infested coastline, a maritime official said.

"We do not know the exact location, but we suspect it was in northeastern Somalia," said Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme in the Kenyan port town of Mombasa.

Mwangura added that he was in touch with Indian maritime officials to get more information about the siezed cargo vessel and its crew.

Somalia's coastline has increasingly become risky to ships sailing the Indian Ocean, with 37 attacks on vessels reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) since mid-March 2005.

Last month, a US navy ship seized 10 suspected Somali pirates who allegedly hijacked an Indian merchant dhow. They are now facing trial before a Kenyan court where they have denied the charges.

Somalia has had no functioning central administration since the 1991 ousting of President Mohamed Siad Barre and pirates have increasingly taken advantage of the lack of authority to ply the 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometre) coast.
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