ships’ hijacking continues
Written By: Zaid al-Alaya & Mohammed al-Kibsi
Article Date: Sep 25, 2008 - 2:35:54 AM
Yemen has formed a maritime unit to fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. The Yemen Coast Guard has established an anti-piracy unit to battle an increase in piracy in the Arabian Sea and Red Sea. Officials said the unit would contain 1,600 special forces soldiers who are well trained to fight piracy and 16 high speed patrol boats purchased from Australia. “The aim of the deployment is to enhance the protection of ships and stop Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and Bab Al Mandab Strait,” a Coast Guard official said.
Meanwhile naval authorities say pirates have attacked and possibly hijacked a British-flagged commercial ship off the Gulf of Aden last Wednesday.
A Yemeni naval official says Aden's port received a distress signal from the ship Wednesday after it came under heavy attack from armed pirates. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
After sounding an alarm, port officials lost radio contact with the ship, named "Thorstar." It was believed to be about 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the coast.
The ship was sailing under a British flag, en route from Southeast Asia carrying a load of wood. Internationally, France circulated a draft resolution in the Security Council urging states to deploy naval vessels and military aircraft to join in the fight against rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia.
The text "calls upon all states interested in the safety of maritime activities to actively take part in the fight against piracy against vessels off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft."
It urges states with naval vessels and military aircraft operating on the high seas and airspace off the Somali coast "to take all necessary measures, in conformity with international law ... for the prevention and repression of acts of piracy."
Last June, the Security Council had adopted a resolution empowering states to send warships into Somalia's territorial waters with the government's consent to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea.
The June resolution gave a six-month mandate to states cooperating with Somalia's transitional government (TFG) in fighting piracy to "enter the territorial waters of Somalia for the purposes of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."
The International Chamber of Commerce's Committee on Maritime Transport called on world government's to take action against the increasing incidents of violent attacks on merchant ships.
The ICC called on governments to take immediate, strong and effective action to repress such acts of piracy. "Governments need to pursue all possible options in order to re-establish safety and stability in the Gulf of Aden, which is one of the world's most strategically important international waterways," the ICC statement said.
According to ICC's International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center, there have been 54 attacks on vessels in Somali waters so far this year, with 12 vessels and over 240 crew members still being held hostage. These hostages are citizens of many nations, including Europe, Russia and others with coalition naval forces in the area. The ICC said the pirates are armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.
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