Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yet more sea piracy

It's getting hard to keep up with the acts of piracy off the east coast of Africa these days. Most recently, a Spanish tuna boat was taken by pirates about 250 miles off the Somalian coast.
Spain dispatched a warship and called for Nato help yesterday after Somali pirates boarded a Spanish fishing boat and seized the crew.

The Playa de Bakio was fishing for tuna about 250 miles off Somalia when it was attacked with grenade launchers at around 1pm on Sunday and boarded by four men.

[ ... ]

Its 26 crew members, among them 13 Spaniards and 13 African nationals, were believed to be unharmed. "I am the captain of the boat... we are all well and there is no problem, for the moment there is no problem," said Amadeo Alvarez, 55, the Galician skipper, speaking to Spanish national radio.

He was interrupted by a man who identified himself as a member of a "Somalia militia" and said in broken English that there would be no problems if their demands were met. Details of the pirates' demands have not been made public but the Somali was heard to say: "It's a question of money."
It always is. And these acts of piracy will continue unabated because the money almost always is paid. The article concludes:
There were 31 actual or attempted pirate attacks in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau. The targets varied from giant tankers to private yachts.

This was an increase from 10 in 2006 and only two in 2004, making Somalia second only to Nigeria for ocean piracy last year. More than 154 hostages were taken during 2007, more than half of all kidnappings on the high seas. Critics say the surge in attacks is due to shipping firms paying ransom.

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