Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Somalia News Bulletin: US Claims Another Attack on Merchant Ship

Pirates attack second US vessel

Pirates have used rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons to attack another US merchant ship off the coast of Somalia.

The pirates damaged the Liberty Sun, which was carrying a cargo of food aid, but were not able to board it.

The ship asked for assistance from the US warship which was involved in the rescue of a US captain seized by pirates last week.

Capt Richard Phillips is due to fly back to the US from Kenya later.

The BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington says the latest attack shows the defiance and danger posed by pirates off the Somali coast.

Despite renewed US calls to quell piracy, four more vessels have been successfully seized over the past two days.

The operation to free Capt Phillips, who was held captive in a lifeboat for five days, left three pirates dead on Sunday.

Somali pirate leaders - who have generally treated captives well in the hope of winning big ransom payouts - vowed on Monday to avenge the deaths.


Owners of the Liberty Sun and the US military confirmed reports of the latest, failed attack, which took place on Tuesday lunchtime local time.

“ We are grateful and pleased that no one was injured ”
Liberty Maritime Corp

After coming under fire, the Liberty Sun immediately requested assistance from the USS Bainbridge, said owners Liberty Maritime Corp in a statement.

The navy destroyer arrived some hours later, by which time the pirates had gone.

"We are grateful and pleased that no-one was injured and the crew and the ship are safe," said the Liberty Maritime Corp statement.

The ship did sustain some damage, it said, but was able to resume its journey to Mombasa.

In the 48 hours prior to the attack, four vessels have been seized in the same area:

-A Lebanese-owned cargo ship, the MV Sea Horse, was taken by gunmen in up to four skiffs

-A Greek-owned bulk carrier, the MV Irene was also seized

-Two Egyptian fishing boats were held the previous day

Meanwhile, three Somali pirates who had taken French hostages are in custody in France, French prosecutors say.

The pirates were captured during a military operation to free hostages taken on the Tanit, a French yacht overtaken by hostages in the Gulf of Aden on 4 April.

The boat's French skipper and two other pirates were killed in the operation by French commandoes.

'Peaks and troughs'

US President Barack Obama promised on Monday to "halt the rise of piracy" in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Cdr Chris Davis, chief public affairs officer for Nato, told the BBC the surge in attacks could be simply down to chance.

"We do see peaks and troughs. Often weather-related and often it's just the situation as it arises and the opportunity - and that's what the pirates are, they are opportunistic."

Shipping companies last year handed over about $80m (£54m) in ransom payments to Somali pirates.

The Horn of Africa nation has been without an effective government since 1991, fuelling the lawlessness which has allowed the pirates to thrive.

Efforts to stop the raiders have so far had only limited success, with international naval patrols struggling to cover the vast areas of ocean where the gangs operate.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/15 06:37:49 GMT

US cargo ship evades Somali pirate attack

Posted: 4/15/2009 1:40:00 PM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

MOMBASA(Sh. M. Network)— Defiant Somali pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at another U.S. cargo ship on Tuesday but failed to hijack it, officials said, just days after Navy SEALs rescued an American hostage after an earlier unsuccessful hijacking.

The brazen midday attack on the Liberty Sun in international waters off the African coast is further evidence that Somali pirates were back to business as usual. Pirates have seized four other ships with 60 hostages since sharpshooters killed three gunmen holding American freighter captain Richard Phillips. "No one can deter us," one bandit boasted.

The Liberty Sun's American crew was safe after pirates fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at the vessel, its owner, Liberty Maritime Corp. said in a statement Tuesday night. There were no injuries but the ship sustained unspecified damage, the Lake Success, N.Y.-based company said.

A U.S. Navy destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, responded to the attack but the pirates had departed by the time it arrived some six hours later, Navy Capt. Jack Hanzlik said.

The Bainbridge is the same destroyer from which the snipers killed the three pirates holding Phillips captive aboard a drifting lifeboat for five days. The Bainbridge was carrying Phillips to Kenya when it was called to respond to the attack on the Liberty Sun.

The Liberty Sun, with its crew of about 20 Americans, was carrying humanitarian aid to Mombasa, Kenya, Hanzlik said. It continued on its way to Kenya after the attack under Navy escort, the company said.

The brigands are grabbing more ships and hostages to show they would not be intimidated by President Barack Obama's pledge to confront the high-seas bandits, according to a pirate based in the Somali coastal town of Harardhere.

"Our latest hijackings are meant to show that no one can deter us from protecting our waters from the enemy because we believe in dying for our land," Omar Dahir Idle told The Associated Press by telephone. "Our guns do not fire water. I am sure we will avenge."

On Monday, Obama vowed to "halt the rise of piracy" without saying exactly how the U.S. and allies would do it.

The pirates have vowed vengeance for five colleagues slain by U.S. and French forces in two hostage rescues since Friday.

The top U.S. military officer, Adm. Michael Mullen, said he takes the pirates' threats seriously, but "we're very well prepared to deal with anything like that." Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Phillips, was to return home to the United States on Wednesday, after reuniting with the 19-man crew of the Maersk Alabama in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, according to the shipping company Maersk Line Ltd.

Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vt. was steaming toward Kenya aboard the Bainbridge, where he was being debriefed by FBI officials and maritime experts, said a senior U.S. defense official in Washington. He said the investigators are gathering evidence of what each captor did for possible criminal investigations and to better prepare for future hostage situations. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

Phillips will take a chartered flight to meet his family at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., for a private reception, according to Maersk. He was rescued Sunday when U.S. Navy SEALs snipers killed three pirates holding him hostage on a lifeboat, and a fourth surrendered. Phillips had been held captive for five days after exchanging himself to safeguard his crew during a thwarted hijacking of the Alabama by the pirates last week.

After a lull at the beginning of the year because of rough seas, the pirates since the end of February have attacked 78 ships, hijacked 19 of them and hold 16 vessels with more than 300 hostages from a dozen or so countries.

The pirates say they are fighting illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters but have come to operate hundreds of miles from there in a sprawling 1.1 million square-mile danger zone.

Pirates can extort $1 million and more for each ship and crew. Kenya estimates they raked in $150 million last year.

A flotilla of warships from nearly a dozen countries has patrolled the Gulf of Aden and nearby Indian Ocean waters for months. They have halted many attacks but say the area is so vast they can't stop all hijackings.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, is the shortest route from Asia to Europe and one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, crossed by more than 20,000 ships each year. The alternative route around the continent's southern Cape of Good Hope takes up to two weeks longer at huge expense.

In an unusual nighttime raid, pirates seized the Greek-managed bulk carrier MV Irene E.M. before dawn Tuesday. Hours later, they commandeered the Lebanese-owned cargo ship MV Sea Horse.

On Sunday or Monday, they took two Egyptian fishing trawlers. Maritime officials said the Irene carried 21 to 23 Filipino crew and the fishing boats 36 fishermen, all believed to be Egyptian. A carrier the size of the Sea Horse would need at least a dozen crew, although the exact number was not immediately available.

NATO spokeswoman Shona Lowe said pirates in three or four speedboats captured the Sea Horse off Somalia's eastern coast.

The Yemeni Embassy in Washington said its coast guard exchanged gunfire Monday with 14 Somali pirates who had hijacked a 23-foot Yemeni fishing vessel. Its forces freed 13 Yemeni hostages and detained two pirates, while the rest fled on a boat, the embassy said.

The Egyptian boats were taken in the gulf off Somalia's northern coast. Said Mursi, Egypt's ambassador to Somalia who is based in Kenya, said the trawlers probably did not have licenses to fish Somali waters. "From my experience, I think that they were illegally fishing," he told The Associated Press.

Commercial fishing boats have been illegally harvesting Somalia's rich and varied sea life, including sought-after yellowfin tuna, since the country collapsed into lawlessness in the 1990s. The United Nations estimates the illegal fishing costs the Horn of Africa nation $300 million annually.

The pirates who attacked the Alabama were between 17 and 19, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.

"Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons," Gates said in a speech at the Marine Corps War College. "Everybody in the room knows the consequences of that."

Most ships are hijacked without a shot fired. Freed hostages report being treated well.

The U.S. is considering new options to fight piracy, including adding Navy gunships along the Somali coast and launching a campaign to disable pirate "mother ships," according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because no decisions have been made yet.

U.S. officials are considering whether to bring the fourth pirate involved in the Alabama attack to the United States or turn him over to Kenya for prosecution. Both piracy and hostage-taking carry life prison sentences under U.S. law. (AP)

Somali lawmaker describes as “aggression the killing of pirates by US navy”

Posted: 4/15/2009 2:57:00 AM
Shabelle: SOMALIA

MOGADISHU (Sh. M. Network)--A Somali lawmaker has described as aggression the killing of three Somali pirates by the America navy on Tuesday.

American Navy snipers killed three Somali pirates in a lifeboat and rescued an American sea captain on Sunday.

Ahmed Bile, a Somali parliamentarian told Shabelle Media that the pirates are Somali nationals and have a right to be sentenced in a legal way.

“I heard that an American captain was abducted in Somalia’s coast and large Navy warships arrived at Somalia’s coast and the saga ended that the Americans saved their man and slaughtered Somali nationals,” said lawmaker Ahmed Bile.

“Perhaps, many people think that our people are like hens and the other people are sacred,” he added.

The statement of the lawmaker comes as the Somali government hailed the operation by American Navy.

Separately, the body of one government soldier was found and another seriously wounded in Jazeera beach outside Mogadishu.

The soldiers were keeping guard a cargo ship. One of the workers of the seaport told Shabelle media that the soldiers were believed to have been killed the crew of the ship.

It is not known why the soldiers have been killed.

Pirates attack U.S.-flagged ship, fail to get aboard

Last Update: 4/14 7:27 pm

A U.S. cargo ship has come under attack by Somali pirates, according to multiple reports.

FOX News and CNN are both reporting the Liberty Sun, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship bound for Kenya, was attacked Tuesday about 300 miles off the coast of Somalia.

The ship sustained rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire from the pirates who never made it aboard.

Liberty Maritime Corporation, where the Liberty Sun is based, issued a statement saying that no one was injured and that the crew and ship are safe.

The vessel, carrying food aid to African nations, is still on its way to Mombasa but with a U.S. military escort.

About 20 American crew members are onboard.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Someone please explain to me why we cannot use the lessons of the past to help tackle this piracy problem. Convoys worked during the last World War...why not now? Groups of ships could convoy with military escorts. And then those 'would be' pirates could be blown out of the water by a strategically placed military without harming a single cargo ship. The costs of this service could be negotiated between countries, insurance companies and all.