Pirates rule the waves
The International Maritime Bureau is calling for United Nations assistance in fighting piracy on the high seas off Somalia.
IMB spokesman Noel Choong says the situation is out of countrol. He wants the international community to step in. So far, only a limited number of NATO, US, Indian and European vessels are patrolling the region.
An Indian warship is reported to have attacked a pirate ship near Somalia. When the heavily armed pirates ignored calls to stop for investigation, the Indian navy vessel INS Tabar opened fire. The Tabar was deployed on an anti-piracy mission and last week freed an Indian bulk carrier and a Saudi Arabia-registered merchant vessel that had been captured by pirates.
Three new cases
Following the hijack of the Sirius Star, a supertanker carrying 200 million barrels of oil, by Somali pirates, it has emerged that three more shps have been seized.
A maritime official in Kenya says that a Thai fishing boat, a cargo flying the Hong Kong flag and a bulk carrier from Greece have been seized. The hijacks took place in the Gulf of Aden.
The Hong Kong-registered ship carries a load of 36,000 tonnes of wheat, destined for the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. The Thai trawler has a 16-man crew. No details are available on the Greek carrier.
Held for ransom
The Sirius Star was captured 800 kilometres off the coast of Kenya, which demonstrates that the pirates are able to operate over a considerable area. TV station Al-Jazeera has received and recorded an unspecified ransom demand from the pirates.
Since the beginning of this year pirates in the gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast, have seized 95 ships. Shipping companies are beginning to consider alternative routes, abandoning the Suez canal in favour of the ancient route around Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. This route is longer and therefore more expensive.