Friday, March 6, 2009
"Warships from the U.S. Navy and the Russian Navy arrested 26 suspected pirates off Somalia in separate operations this week, while a maritime watchdog warned on Friday that attacks are stepping up as weather improves and pirates look to replenish their haul after releasing ships hijacked for ransom.
"The latest arrests came Thursday, when an American helicopter from the USS Vella Gulf fired warning shots at gunmen in two skiffs that had opened fire and tried to board the Indian-flagged vessel Premdivya.
"U.S. forces searched the skiff and found weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, then took nine suspected pirates aboard the American ship, the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said.
"On Wednesday, the same American ship detained seven other suspected pirates - the Navy's first arrests since it established an anti-piracy task force this year. The suspects, armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, had tried to board the Marshall Islands-flagged vessel Polaris using a ladder from their skiff."
Read the rest of the story: 26 Suspected Pirates Captured.
And from this article:
"Piracy off Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991, reached record levels last year. Somali pirates, seeking multimillion-dollar ransoms, launched 111 attacks and seized 42 vessels last year, mostly in the Gulf of Aden, with attacks peaking between September and November.
"Somali piracy accounted for the bulk of the 49 vessels hijacked and 889 crewmembers taken hostage around the world in 2008 — the highest worldwide figures since the London-based International Maritime Bureau began keeping records in 1991."