Somalia: The Message From Moscow


May 12, 2010: Some 20 kilometers south of Mogadishu, Al Shabaab gunmen attacked and closed a medical clinic run by a foreign aid group. No reason for this was given, although al Shabaab has been increasingly hostile to foreign aid groups. The clinic mainly served the several hundred thousand refugees from the fighting in Mogadishu. A stalemate continues in Mogadishu, with no one being able to control all of the largest city in the country. The rest of Somalia remains controlled by a patchwork of clan and warlord militias. The most powerful warlords are Islamic radicals (al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam) and Sufi moderates Ahlu Sunna.

Large tankers are now detouring further (some 2,000 kilometers east of Somalia), as they head south from the Persian Gulf to round the southern tip of Africa.

May 11, 2010: Somali pirates seized a Bulgarian chemical tanker about 200 kilometers east of the Yemen port of Aden. The pirates may have picked the wrong ship. The Bulgarian tanker was on its last voyage, travelling empty to Karachi, where it will be broken up for scrap.

The UN has agreed to help Kenya expand its legal system to handle prosecuting a lot more pirates. So far, 127 pirates were handled over to Kenya for prosecution (with Western nations picking up the expenses). But corruption and inefficiency resulted in only ten pirates being prosecuted in over a year.

May 10, 2010: Pirates released ship, seized March 23rd, after receiving $2.5 million in ransom. That left at least 19 ships and nearly 400 sailors still being held.

In Mogadishu, a roadside bomb went off, killing one soldier and wounding four.

May 8, 2010: A few hundred al Shabaab gunmen fought local militia in the town of Elberde, near the Ethiopian border, and took control of the place. This is likely to bring a reaction, in the form of a military raid, from the Ethiopians.

About 200 kilometers south of Oman, a tanker was seized by pirates.

May 7, 2010:  Somali pirates seized a Yemeni fishing boat, docked at an island off the coast, and took it to Somali, apparently for use as a sea going mother ship. The Yemeni crew of seven was taken as well.

May 6, 2010: Russian commandoes freed a Russian tanker, seized by pirates yesterday some 800 kilometers off the Somali coast. The tanker crew (of 23 Russians) had taken refuge in a safe room, disabled the engine and called for help. One of the nearest warships was a Russian frigate with commando detachment on board. The Russian frigate rushed to the scene and landed less than a dozen commandoes on the tanker. The helicopter also opened fire on the pirates. One of the eleven armed pirates was killed, before the rest of the pirates surrendered. The tanker was carrying $50 million worth of oil from Sudan to China via the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The Russians freed the ten surviving pirates in a boat, along with a radio. This was done because Russia, like most other countries, no longer has any laws to deal with pirates. The Russians reported that they offered to escort the Somali boat to the Somali coast (over 500 kilometers distant), but the Somalis declined. However, the Russian frigate lost contact with the freed Somali pirates after about an hour, and the ten pirates were believed lost at sea. The Russians announced this, apparently, with the intention of sending a message to all pirates.

A thousand kilometers east of Somalia, off the Seychelles, pirates seized a Taiwanese fishing ship.





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