Monday, November 07, 2005

Here Be Pirates, Yarr

From the Associated Press via Yahoo!News:
NAIROBI, Kenya - The violent attack on a cruise liner off Somalia's coast shows pirates from the anarchic country on the Horn of Africa are becoming bolder and more ambitious in their efforts to hijack ships for ransom and loot, a maritime official warned Sunday.

Even before the attack on the liner Seabourn Spirit, Gedi had urged neighboring countries to send warships to patrol Somalia's coast, which is Africa's longest and lies along key shipping lanes linking the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.
The gunmen who shot at the Seabourn Spirit never got close enough to board the cruise ship, but one member of the 161-person crew was injured by shrapnel, according to the Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Carnival Corp.

The liner escaped by shifting to high speed and changing course. Its passengers, mostly Americans with some Australians and Europeans, were gathered in a lounge for safety and none were injured, the company said.

Passenger Charles Supple, 78, of Fiddletown, Calif., recalled by phone Sunday how his companion woke him up and said there was a boat right beside the cruise liner. He said the boat held four men in ski masks, dressed in black and armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

"They were very agile in their boat," he said. "We started hearing these things going 'Ping! Ping! Ping!' all over the ship. Then we realized it was an attack."

The retired physician and World War II veteran said he took a picture of the boat, and one pirate fired a bazooka at him.
The presence of the pirates is due to the state of virtual anarchy that exists in Somalia.
The International Maritime Bureau has for several months warned ships to stay at least 150 miles away from Somalia's coast, citing 25 pirate attacks in those waters since March 15 — compared with just two for all of 2004.