Somali pirates last September captured a Ukrainian cargo ship, the MV Faina, loaded to the gunnels with heavy weaponry, including 33 Russian-designed T-72 battle tanks. Since then, American and Russian naval vessels have been shadowing the ship at its anchorage off the fishing village of Hindawao, 300 miles north of Mogadishu. This month there were reports that the ship's owners had agreed on ransom terms, but the Faina and its crew are still being held. NEWSWEEK's Rod Nordland interviewed Shamun Indhabur, who is thought to be the leader of the pirates who took the Faina, and the Sirius Star, a Saudi supertanker with $100 million worth of oil aboard. The interview was conducted by satellite telephone to the bridge of the Faina, through Somali translator Abukar al-Badri. Excerpts:
NEWSWEEK: What is your background, and how did you capture the MV Faina? Shamun Indhabur: I was a fisherman before I turned to piracy, a crewmember of a small fishing boat. We used to capture lobsters and sharks.When we hijacked MV Faina it was early morning 24 September 2008, in Somali waters. We took it after 60 minutes of fighting between the crewmembers and our gunmen and eventually the captain decided to surrender after we fired some rockets to warn them that we were close to destroying the ship if they didn't surrender. The captain tried to escape, but he didn't succeed. He had a pistol and he refused to surrender until we were close to killing him. When we intercepted the ship and saw the shipment [of arms], then we thought it was going to Somalia and belonged to the Ethiopians [whose army is supporting the transitional government in Somalia], but the captain told us that it was going to South Africa. Then later we saw that it was going to southern Sudan, after we forced the captain to show us the manifests.What's the situation on board the Faina now? more..http://www.newsweek.com/id/175980?GT1=43002
This surgical operation will not cleanse the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean of the pirates overnight, but it is a good start. Experts have been saying that you can successfully fight pirates only on land, with victory on the sea as an additional bonus.
Another important change is that China has agreed to join the multinational force against the pirates. In early January, China's best missile destroyers, Haikou and Wuhan, and the supply vessel Weishanhu, with over 800 sailors and 70 Marines on board, will reach the Gulf of Aden. They will coordinate their operation with the warships of other countries that are already in the Gulf or headed for it.
Some 1,200 Chinese merchant vessels pass by Somalia every year, and the pirates attack approximately 20% of them. more..http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20081231/119292146.html
Armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, pirates in three speedboats twice tried to board the Greek-flagged Kriti Episkopi but were driven away when the crew turned fire hoses on them and EU aircraft scrambled from a nearby European Union naval flotilla to help, shipping company and Greek government officials said.
The attack came a day after Somali pirates seized an Egyptian cargo ship and its 28 crew in the waterway, one of the world's most important sea routes. Also Thursday, a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian tanker from being hijacked and a French warship thwarted an attack on a Panamanian cargo ship and captured several pirates. more..http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090102/ap_on_re_af/piracy
"The Puntland regional government received eight pirates from the French navy, who intercepted them while they were attacking a commercial vessel," Puntland assistant minister for seaports Abdelkadir Musa Yusuf told reporters.
"They will be charged for their crimes according to criminal law. This is the second time the French navy has transferred captured pirates to Puntland," he said.
The Premier Maitre L'Her, a French frigate patrolling the waters as part of a European Union taskforce, intercepted the pirates on Thursday after twice responding to a distress call from the Panamanian-flagged S. Venus. more.. http://www.theage.com.au/world/french-navy-hands-over-eight-somali-pirates-to-puntland-20090103-799q.html