435 sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates

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Monday November 01, 2010 - 18:30:47 in News In English by Xarunta Dhexe
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    435 sailors being held hostage by Somali pirates

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Somali pirates are holding more than 435 sailors hostage, despite an international naval operation intended to protect ships sailing across the world's most important sea lanes from attack.

Figures from the London-based International Chamber of Commerce show that while the total number of attacks has declined, the numbers of crew kidnapped and ships hijacked have not. The pirates have had more success with less effort.

On Saturday, pirates hijacked the Liberian-flagged Polar with a crew of 24. Another ship was attacked Friday, and four on Thursday. Earlier this month, pirates took the Greekflagged York and its 17 crew, a Taiwanese fishing boat with 12 crew and a Panamanian cargo ship with 15.

There have been 140 attempted hijackings this year, down from 217 in 2009. However, the number of ships taken already stands at 40, against 47 in the whole of last year. The number of crew kidnapped stands at 790 and experts fear this will soon pass last year's number of 867.

"The multinational naval fleet has been doing a great job, but it simply can't be everywhere, said Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Chamber of Commerce. " It's a very big ocean."

Each hijacked ship and its crew can bring pirates a ransom of between $2.5 million and $5 million. The 435 captives are those for whom deals have not yet been negotiated, or work for owners who either cannot or will not pay the ransom. Many have been held for months. Britain, the U.S., China, India and other countries started joint naval operations in 2008 to protect the 25,000 ships that travel through the Indian Ocean each year.

The mission has had some success in rescuing hijacked crews and sinking pirate ships, but the buccaneers have responded by moving east and south into unpatrolled seas.

Rohosafi, English News Staff
Email: englishnews@live.com

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