Pirates Capture Fourth Vessel Off Somalia

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Published Apr 6, 2017 4:40 AM by The Maritime Executive

On Monday, pirates hijacked the Pakistani vessel Salama 1 off the coast of Somalia, the fourth successful pirate attack in the region this year. 

The attack followed shortly after another group of pirates boarded and hijacked the Al Kausar, an Indian sailing dhow. Neither ship has an Equasis record.

According to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), the Al Kausar was hijacked near Socotra Island and taken to El Hur, near the former pirate base of Hobyo in Galmudug, an autonomous region in central Somalia. The Al Kausar was later moved to avoid capture by approaching security forces. A pirate leader identified as Aw Kombe told Reuters that the hijackers were still negotiating with merchants in Kismayo, a port in southern Somalia, about the release of the vessel. "The traders want the dhow released without ransom but my friends say they will not release it without at least some cash," he said. The Al Kausar was reportedly carrying a cargo of food from Dubai to Bosaso, the largest city in Puntland. 

Socotra Island lies at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, about 150 nm off the tip of the Horn of Africa. John Steed of the group Oceans Without Piracy told Reuters that the recent attacks indicate that Somali pirates have kept their ability to launch operations well beyond coastal waters. 

The recent hijackings mark the end of a five-year hiatus in Somali piracy. There were over 200 attacks in 2011, but a combination of embarked private security contractors and international naval patrols all but eliminated the threat after 2012. The reasons behind the resurgence are not entirely clear; some Somali sources cite illegal foreign fishing operations and toxic waste dumping off the coast as primary factors. Endemic poverty, famine, corruption and the influence of the Islamic State's ideology may also play a role, analysts suggest. Abdi Hassan Hussein, the former director of intelligence for Puntland, told Voice of America that there are at least eight criminal groups that have an interest piracy, including some that have not yet engaged in an attack. "[Piracy] may increase in the coming days if the Somali government and the international community fail to take action to prevent these incidents," he said.