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Calls Increase for Protection in Waters Off Somalia's Coastline

A Kenyan shipping company and the International Maritime Bureau are among those calling for security in the waters off the coast of Somalia following a recent spate of pirate attacks there.

The shipping firm, Motaku Shipping Agencies, says that, after three pirate attacks on its ships since June, the company will no longer sail to Somalia or even pass the coastline until there is some sort of security or armed escorts on the high seas.

Managing director Karim Kudrati tells VOA that outside help is needed to curb what the International Maritime Bureau notes is a dramatic rise in the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia over the past eight months.

"It seems that the Kenyan government and the Somali government don't have the resources and the infrastructure to protect us," said Karim Kudrati. "I think this is the time that the international community should come forward and do the patrolling."

Motaku Shipping Agencies' cargo includes two to three shipments per month of World Food Program assistance to Somalia.

The latest piracy incident occurred last weekend, when gunmen attacked a cruise ship passing by Somalia on its way to Kenya.

The ship used a high-tech noise-making device to keep the attackers at bay, then sped away and docked in the Seychelles Islands instead of proceeding to Kenya.

According to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report, there have been 28 piracy incidents off Somalia's coast since March of this year.

Deputy director Captain Jayant Abhyankar tells VOA that there had been only two attacks per year, in the previous two years.

Captain Abhyankar says he does not know why there has been such a large jump in piracy incidents.

He says, in general, governments along the coast are responsible for security on the seas. But, he says, Somalia is a special case that needs help from the outside.

"For Somalia, there is no easy answer, because as you know, there is no central government, there is no law enforcement, so it's really free for all at the moment," said Jayant Abhyankar. "Really, one has to look at it from a very objective point of view and possibly involvement of the U.N. Security Council."

Captain Abhyankar says the International Maritime Bureau urges ships to pass at least 200 nautical miles from Somalia's coastline.

Somalia is trying to recover from 14 years of civil war. A transitional government formed late last year is grappling with insecurity and says it does not have the resources to deal with the piracy situation.