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Somali maritime police step up patrols as piracy fears grow
30 November 2023, 08:44
The latest attack on a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Eden was carried out by Somali nationals, it has been alleged.
Somalia’s maritime police force has intensified patrols in the Red Sea after a failed pirate hijacking of a ship in the Gulf of Aden.
The commander of the maritime force in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, Abdullahi Mohamed Ahmed, said patrols in the waters have doubled and are on a 24-hour rotation to deter pirates.
“Here now we have many challenges. We had initially dealt with the pirates and stopped their activities, but recently on top of al-Shabab and IS we have had to look out for them again,” he said.
On Sunday, the US military said it had captured five men who had tried to hijack an Israeli-linked tanker off the coast of Yemen.
US and British militaries said the armed attackers seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden.
The pirates had attempted to escape using speedboats but surrendered after being pursued by American destroyer the USS Mason, a statement from the US military’s central command said.
Yemeni Houthi rebels have conducted recent attacks on commercial vessels on the Gulf of Eden, seen as part of a rise in violence in the region due to the Israel-Hamas war.
But the Pentagon said this latest bid was carried out by Somali nationals.
It is the first in years and has led the Somali government to appeal for international support to deter a resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa.
“Puntland State is all alone in this security effort. No assistance from the African Union Mission in Somalia, the European Union or any international assistance. But we are doing our best,” Mr Mohamed said.
Somalia had for years been blighted by piracy, with the peak being 2011, when the UN says more than 160 attacks were recorded off the Somali coast.
The incidents have declined drastically since then, however, largely due to the presence of American and allied navies in international waters.