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Somali pirates caught at sea, transferred to Seychelles

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AFP — Six suspected Somali pirates have been transferred to the Seychelles following their arrest for attacks earlier this month off southern Somalia, a Seychelles prisons official said on Thursday.

The suspects arrived on Thursday morning at the port of Victoria, capital of the Indian Ocean archipelago nation, said Raymond St Ange, acting commissioner of Montagne Posee prison.

The six were arrested by the Italian navy, deployed as part of the European anti-piracy operation Atlanta, after being spotted by a military helicopter while attacking a container ship and a fishing vessel on November 17 and 18.

The men were transferred to the Seychelles under an agreement with the EU. “The agreement allows us to prosecute cases of piracy, but the prosecution will depend on the evidence presented to the attorney general,” St Ange said.

There have been several attempted hijackings in recent months, a worrying sign of a possible resurgence of Somali piracy which had declined from its 2011 peak as navy patrols were stepped up.

The years-long scourge disrupted international shipping and led to the kidnapping for ransom of many hundreds of seafarers.

While warships and armed guards have reduced the number of attacks, they have done nothing to address the root causes of piracy, which lie in Somalia’s decades of state failure, poverty and lack of economic opportunity.

The last similar transfer of suspects to the Seychelles was in 2014.

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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