Thursday, March 19, 2009


Piracy off the coast of Somalia continues despite the presence of international allied forces in the Indian Ocean. In the latest attack a ship crew member was shot in the head.

The North Korean vessel, mv Chong Chon Gang, was attacked 400 nautical miles off the Kenya-Somalia border, said East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme Coordinator Andrew Mwangura. “The vessel was attacked by pirates sailing in a small skiff launched from a mother ship. They fired rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons in an attempt to force the vessel to stop,” he said.

“The captain took evasive manoeuvres including altering course, increasing speed and activating the vessel’s fire hose and was able to escape, though it (ship) suffered damages,” he said Wednesday.

The injured crew member was treated on the ship and is out of danger. Piracy has increased in the Indian Ocean in the past two years and the international community has consequently deployed warships in the Gulf of Aden to deal with the menace.

Pirates demand ransoms for kidnapped crew and ships, which owners have in the past paid, spawning a thriving, albeit illegal business for Somali warlords. The British, American and German navies have handed to Kenya a total of 24 suspected pirates - all Somalis - since December last year for trial.
Nine others convicted for piracy last year are serving a seven-year jail term. Pirates claim that many of these ships arrive to fish around Somali water which is currently not administered and has no National Navy. The sea sorrounding Somalia has one of the World Largest sea resources including various species of Fish.

Mr Mwangura disclosed that a crew of Chinese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Kenyans was being detained at the port of Dar-es-Salaam for allegedly engaging in illegal fishing in Tanzanian waters.