Somalia: The Pirate's Lament


April 26, 2012: The Somali pirates are having a much more difficult time this year, due to better tactics by the anti-piracy patrol. This has mainly to do with more aggressive treatment of mother ships. These vessels, which can operate far from the coast, are sought out and destroyed. As a result, so far this year there have only been 27 attacks in the Indian Ocean, compared to 91 in the same period last year. That's a 70 percent reduction. The success rate of pirate attacks is about a third of what it was three years ago. Large ships are better prepared for possible attacks and the anti-piracy patrol has developed more effective techniques for getting to ships under attack, in time to defeat the pirates. So far this year Somali pirates have attacked 102 ships. This resulted in the capture of nine ships, the death of two sailors, and the capture of 152. Currently, pirates are holding 15 ships but only nine are large vessels likely to bring a big ransom. About 240 sailors are being held. Smaller cargo and fishing vessels are taken for use as mother ships and usually released, with their crews, after a few months.

The TNG (Transitional National Government) is offering a $500 reward for each al Shabaab member brought to them, dead or alive. The biggest problem here will be determining if a dead man was really al Shabaab. Somalia is the corruption capital of the world and this reward program seems like an opportunity to cheat.

In the next few months several thousand additional AU peacekeepers and trained TNG troops will arrive. These will be sent to towns outside Mogadishu and work with pro-government militias to take al Shabaab apart village by village. Or at least that's the plan.

April 24, 2012: Northeast of Mogadishu al Shabaab pulled a businessman out of his car and beheaded him. The Islamic terrorists accused the dead man of spying for the United States.

April 19, 2012: AU peacekeepers seized another al Shabaab base on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Al Shabaab no longer has enough gunmen to fight government and AU troops inside Mogadishu. Instead they are setting up bases in the outskirts (where there are many villages) and using these locations to plan and carry out terror attacks in the city. These consist of suicide bombers or roadside bombs. Since most of the victims are civilians, this gives most Somalis an incentive to call in information on where new al Shabaab bases are. Al Shabaab is fading but the core membership of several hundred men (most of them foreigners) could likely fight to the death.

April 18, 2012: Kenyan troops fought al Shabaab gunmen for several hours outside the town of Afmadow, which is about 620 kilometers south of Mogadishu. Several hundred nearby civilians fled as did, eventually, the al Shabaab men, taking their casualties with them.

April 17, 2012: In Baidoa a suicide bomber tried to attack a UN facility but was stopped outside and killed two soldiers.



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