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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid