Monday, February 26, 2007

They're back! And they're still not Johnny Depp.

Somali pirates had quietened down for quite some time. Now, all of a sudden, with the resurgence of the war-lords, they're back.
Three Somali police speedboats and a U.S. military vessel were headed Monday toward a U.N.-chartered cargo ship hijacked by pirates, a senior police official said. Piracy has been rampant off the Somali coast.

Somali pirates boarded the MV Rozen - which had just delivered a total of 1,884 tons of food aid in northern Somalia - on Sunday, taking the crew hostage, officials said. It is the third U.N.-chartered ship to be hijacked in Somali waters since 2005.

Police boats were within sight of the ship ``but we asked them to stop going further because our biggest concern is the safety of the crew of 12 on board,'' said Col. Abdi Ali Hagaafe, police chief of the Bari region.

``We have asked the U.S. navy in the Red Sea ... to help us in the operation, and they told us they have started to move towards the ship,'' he said.

The ship is not in international waters, but ``U.S./Coalition forces are in the area and are monitoring the situation,'' said Lt. Denise Garcia of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command based in Bahrain.

Somali pirates are trained fighters, often dressed in military fatigues, using speedboats equipped with satellite phones and Global Positioning System equipment. They typically are armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and various types of grenades, according to the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia.

Just in case anyone thinks this is funny, these guys aren't above killing the entire crew just for the hell of it.

So, why is the UN shipping food in unarmed merchant ships without a naval escort? This is now the fourth UN World Food Program ship high-jacked by Somali pirates. Two of them sat with the crews held hostage for over three months.

Escort work isn't sexy, but it is effective.

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