Somali pirates seized three ships and were narrowly thwarted from taking a fourth in one of the worst 24 hours of hijacking in the Gulf of Aden.
By Mike Pflanz
Two helicopters and a warship were deployed to help crew members of a Chinese cargo vessel who had barricaded themselves into their sleeping quarters after being boarded by nine heavily armed pirates.
The pirates fled after they were fired on from the helicopters, sent by a multinational naval force patrolling off Somalia. The crew of 30 on the Zenhua 4 were released unharmed.
“They were very fortunate, once the ship is boarded, it is very rare for them to fail to hijack it,” said Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting centre at the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier, an Indonesian tugboat, a Turkish cargo ship and a yacht were all hijacked in what was one of the most successful 24 hours for Somalia’s pirates.
The attacks came the day after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution allowing foreign forces, including the British military, to pursue pirates on to Somali soil for the first time and use “all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia”.
File photo shows the French naval ship Commandant Bouan off the coast of Somalia during a mission. The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution for the first time authorizing international land operations against audacious, armed pirates sheltering in Somalia.(AFP/Marine Nationale/Ho/File/Aurelie Fava)
This raises the possibility that US soldiers could return to Somalia for the first time since their disastrous pull-out following the deadly Black Hawk Down debacle, when 18 American soldiers died in Mogadishu.
The latest raids push the number of attempted hijackings in the waters between Somalia and Yemen to 124 this year.