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6 suspected Somali pirates transferred to Seychelles for possible trial

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(Seychelles News Agency) – Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to Seychelles after they were caught attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel in the Southern Somali Basin, officials said.

The suspects were apprehended by an Italian navy frigate, ITS Virginio Fasan, after they attacked a Seychelles-flagged 52,000-tonne container ship and a fishing vessel last week. The incident took place over a 24-hour period from Friday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 19.

Head of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia Secretariat in Seychelles, Raymond St Ange, who is also the Acting superintendent of prisons, said the pirates have been transferred to Seychelles based on an agreement with the European Naval Force Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR).

“The agreement allows us to initiate prosecution during any act of piracy. But prosecution will depend on evidence analysed by the office of the Attorney-General,” said St Ange.

The suspects arrived in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, on Thursday morning at the Port of Victoria.

St Ange said that a delegation from Somalia will also arrive in the country to discuss the issue of piracy.

There are 15 Somali detainees in the Seychelles’ main prison facility at Montagne Posee.

In an article in the online navaltoday website, the EU NAVFOR Somalia said, “the pirates launched a number of rocket-propelled grenades against the container ship during their attack.”

“All crew on both attacked ships are safe thanks to adherence to BMP4 (Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia), the presence of a security team on one of the vessels and good seamanship,” the article quoted the EU NAVFOR as saying.

The Seychelles’ archipelago — 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — has been on the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005, when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries.

Despite the decline in pirate attacks off the vast coastline of Somalia from 236 in 2011 to two reportedly unsuccessful attacks in 2014, Seychelles has remained on the alert and St Ange had said last year that recent intelligence suggests that pirates threats still exist.

More recently, the Seychelles’ chair of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), Ambassador Barry Faure, said seafarers should bear in mind pirates will always be there as long as there is no stability on the grounds in Somalia.

Briefing Room

Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes

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AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

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Piracy

Can Somalia’s fishing industry keep pirates out of business?

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Piracy

Rising piracy on Indian Ocean spells high insurance charges

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Daily Nation — Cases of piracy in Indian Ocean off Somalia coast increased in 2017, raising fears that sustained attacks could raise insurance and freight costs for Kenya importers.

Nine piracy attacks were recorded off Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016, a new report shows, as global attacks dropped to a 22-year low.

“The dramatic incident, alongside our 2017 figures, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” Mr Pottengal Mukundan, International Maritime Bureau (IMB), director said in a statement.

The increase in such attacks usually comes with costs such as increased insurance premiums, longer freight routes as vessels avoid hot spots and additional cost of hiring private armed guards.

For country that imports more than Sh1.3 trillion worth of consumer and industrial goods, the increased cost is eventually passed to the consumer through higher retail prices.

In their heyday six years ago, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia in 2011, the IMB says, and held hundreds of hostages.

That year, Ocean’s Beyond Piracy estimated the global cost of piracy was about $7 billion.

The shipping industry bore roughly 80 per cent of those costs, the group’s analysis showed.

But attacks fell sharply after ship owners tightened security and avoided the Somali coast.

Intervention by regional naval forces that flooded into the area helped disrupt several hijack bids and improved security for the strategic trade route that leads through the Suez Canal and links the oilfields of the Middle East with European ports.

The IMB data shows a total of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships took place globally, the lowest level of sea-based crimes to be recorded since 1995, when 188 reports were received.

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