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Somali pirates use merchant ships to attack Indian Ocean vessels.

SANA'A, Jan. 19 -- At least 32 merchant ships are being exploited to attack Yemeni boats and international ships in the Indian Ocean, Shuja' Al-Deen Almahdi, director of the Coast Guard Authority in Aden told the Yemen Times. These merchant ships were attacked by Somali pirates in 2010. When the ship owners failed to pay the ransom for the return of the ships, the pirates started using them as mother ships in the Indian Ocean. Now, these ships are used to provide the small boats of Somali pirates with fuel and supplies, according to Almahdi. According to Coast Guard Authority, Somali pirates recently attacked two commercial ships in Pakistani territorial waters. An Algerian ship was attacked on 1st Jan., and a South Korean ship on Jan. 15th. Almahdi said that the authority believes that the pirates have mother ships based in the Indian Ocean to support attacks on ships in the area. "Small boats cannot go all the way from Somalia to Pakistani waters without apparent help," said Almahdi. The distance between Somali and Pakistan is more than 1,100 miles which is beyond the range of the small attack craft. The Coast Guard Authority obtained information from Somalia that the support ships were those where ransoms were not paid. They were among 51 ships abducted, 19 of which were returned when the ransom was paid. All the ships were originally attacked and confiscated by Somali pirates in Somali coastal areas. The pirates are currently in contact with the owners of the ships to obtain ransoms in return for releasing the ships. The ships are of many different types including an oil tanker, bulk carriers, container ships, fishing boats and tongs. Until the ships are released, the Somalis are using them to extend their activities into the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. "These ships became more like bastions in the ocean and the pirates are using them to seize other ships," explained Almahdi. He added that the quiet monsoon season may be helping pirates use small boats and navigate the international shipping routes. According to the Coast Guard Authority, there are at least 28 international ships in the Gulf of Aden trying to control piracy as part of an international campaign. Pirates fail to hijack a Yemeni oil tanker At least five pirates attacked a Yemeni oil tanker last Saturday evening in attempt to seize it in Yemeni territorial waters in the Red Sea, according to the Coast Guard Authority. The Captain of the oil tanker recognized a "suspicious boat carrying Somali pirates." The boat attacked the tanker, which is called Radeef Gana, at 5 pm on Saturday. The pirates approached the tanker until they could use a grappling hook, and attempted to board the ship by a metal ladder, the Captain told the authority. However, once the naval security team on the tanker fired in the air, the pirates aborted their attempt and escaped. The ship continued on its course safely to the port of Mocka in Hodeida on the Red Sea. Meanwhile, the authority said that it recommends that all the tankers and ships should have enough weapons to protect themselves. Most Yemeni fishermen, however, do not carry weapons and thus are exposed to more danger than the large ships, according to the authority's records. It is also reported that at least six Yemeni boats belonging to fishermen have been attacked by pirates on the 5th and 6th of January in Yemeni regional waters. The first boat belonged to Zaid Al-Hadirami from Hadramout. Al-Hadrami, sent a letter to the Coast Guard Authority telling them that his boat was attacked and stolen while he was fishing in the Arabian Sea. Yemeni fishermen risking their lives in Somali waters Many Yemeni fishermen, especially from Hadramout governorate, attempt to fish in Somali regional waters. A Yemeni fisherman was killed in the last few days as Somali pirates and the Yemeni fishermen exchanged fire. Another Yemeni fisherman was injured during this clash, and arrived back in Al-Mukala on Tuesday. The Yemeni Coast Guard Authority have no information regarding Somali injuries. Nowadays, many Yemeni fishermen take the adventure and go to Somali regional waters as it is rich with fish. This often ends with them being at the Somali pirates' mercy, Al-Mahdi concluded.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:0INDI
Date:Jan 20, 2011
Words:724
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