11/19/2008, 00.00
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Indian Navy sink Somali pirate ship

Yesterday a ship from Hong Kong and one from Iran were attacked; today a Thai fishing trawler. So far in 2008, there have been 95 pirate attacks and 35 ships hijacked.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Indian navy reports that it has sunk a Somali pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden.  The Indian warship Tabar opened fire after it was attacked by pirates.

Reports of piracy off the Somali coast are continuous.  The super oil tanker Sirius Star, hijacked by pirates, has been docked close to the Somali coast.  A Hong Kong vessel, transporting grain to Iran, was taken yesterday by pirates.  Also yesterday an Iranian merchant ship, with 25 sailors on board was captured.  Today a Thai fishing trawler was hijacked along with its crew of 16 people, in the Gulf of Aden.

So far this year, there have been 95 pirate attacks in Somali waters, 35 ships have been captured.  17 of these remain in the hands of pirates.

Somalia is a country in chaos that has been without a national government since 1991.  Warships from diverse nations patrol the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes that links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

In 2008 alone pirate attacks in the area have coast circa 30 million dollars in ransom paid.

Many countries, including Saudi Arabia are pushing for International cooperation to guarantee shipping security in the area.  Other countries now prefer to circumnavigate Africa, passing instead for Cape of Good Hope rather than risk falling into pirate’s hands in the Gulf of Aden.  In Somalia, groups of Islamic militants who are fighting against the weakened interim government, promise that should they come to power, they will stop the piracy.

According to experts, piracy in the area spread in the ‘90s as an attempt to defend Somalia’s territorial waters.  Many foreign ships – among them Italian, Spanish, Korean and Thai – illegally trawled Somali waters for fishing or to dump toxic waste.  Now it has become a way of earning a living – given the severe poverty in Somalia – and to finance the war of the various rebel groups.  Somali pirates have computers, satellite phones, automatic weapons and speedboats.  It is said that their leaders live in luxury with villas, numerous wives and expensive cars.

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