News / Africa

North Indian Ocean Facing Greater Piracy Risk

Calmer waters have allowed Somali-based pirates to attack and hijack numerous vessels in the Indian Ocean in recent weeks.  This year, pirates have widened their range of operations as far down as Mozambique Channel and as far east as India.

In an interview with VOA one year ago, the director of the International Maritime Bureau in London, Pottengal Mukundun, expressed concerns about pirates venturing hundreds of kilometers off the coast of Somalia and threatening vessels in the region of the Seychelles and Comoros Islands.  

Mukundun says, this year, pirates have extended their reach to threaten just about any vessel sailing in the northern half of the Indian Ocean.

"I think the whole of the Indian Ocean north of Mauritius and Madagascar is [an] area, where ships should continue to be on alert," he said.  "The attack, which took place about 66 degrees east recently, was the first time an attack had taken place so far east.  There was at least one mother ship there.  So, they were able to operate in that area and they took the first ship that they attacked."

At the time it was seized on March 22, the vessel, a Turkish-owned, Maltese-flagged bulk carrier with a crew of 21 sailors, was about 5,000 kilometers off the coast of Somalia, close to India.   The U.S. Navy says another pirate mother ship was recently spotted down in the Mozambique Channel, a waterway between Mozambique and the island-nation of Madagascar.

Mother ships are often hijacked vessels used to transport pirates far out into the open sea.  From these mother ships, pirates launch small, fast attack boats to pursue a vessel, go alongside it and board it.  

The International Maritime Bureau has long called for international navies patrolling the Somali coast to target mother ships rather than trying to intervene during an attack.  Mukundun says he remains convinced that going after mother ships is the only way to counter the growing menace of piracy, especially in the Indian Ocean.

"I think it still remains the only tactical response in the Indian Ocean.  It is such a vast area.  The pirates have suffered setbacks in the last four to five weeks because the French, the Dutch, and other navies have actually identified mother ships, pursued them and sunk some of the small mother ships.  So, those are all positive signs," Mukundun added.

Since early 2009, foreign navies have been patrolling and providing escorts for commercial vessels, mostly in the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, a vital shipping lane between Somalia and Yemen.   But their forces are stretched and unable to respond to every distress call.

About 16 vessels, including eight Indian-owned dhows with more than 100 crew members, have been seized in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden since the beginning of March.   Ransom demand for each vessel and its crew has jumped to about $3 million from an average of $1 million a year ago.

Some commercial ships have hired armed private security to deter piracy.  In the first recorded incident of its kind, a private security guard on board a merchant ship shot and killed a pirate last week during an attack.

The use of armed security guards is controversial amid fears in the shipping industry that having guns aboard vessels could lead to violence that endangers the crew.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid