Sunday, May 20, 2012

Somali fishermen beg end to anti-piracy air strikes

 Fishermen fear being caught up in further EU Naval Force attacks aimed to damage pirate operations.

It was night time and a small group from Guushaaye’s men (the holder of the MV Albedo) were chewing khat near their camp. There were three skiffs of which two were tenders for the Albedo while the other one is owned by the hijackers of MV Orna. Around 2:30 or 3:00am there were 13 pirates in the camp we heard helicopters flying towards the area of Hundulle and my friends escaped from the area – and went took small speed boat and went onboard of Albedo. The airstrike destroyed three speed boats and other equipment including four ladders, a half tanker of fuel, two fishing nets and mobiles.
MOGADISHU - Somali fisherman pleaded Friday for international navies protecting shipping to halt air strikes on coastal villages, after the EU Naval Force struck a pirate base for the first time.
An attack helicopter staged a nighttime raid on the Somali coastline Tuesday, the first since the European Union authorised such strikes, destroying several small boats that the force said were part of pirate operations.But fishermen on the impoverished coast said that their boats had also been destroyed, and that they feared being caught up in further attacks aimed to damage pirate operations. "The pirates cannot be easily identified, as they mingle with the fishermen -- the boats are the same and the people look alike unless they are armed," said Mohamed Hassan, a local fisherman in the Harardhere region."The fishermen are also victims -- some of the boats destroyed by the international forces belonged to local fishermen, and we are very much worried that fishermen will die in such operations," he added.  NATO and European Union warships have battled pirates at sea since 2008, but the EU decided to step up the fight in March by authorising strikes on assets stored on land. The attacks Tuesday marked the first time an international naval force patrolling the pirate-infested Indian Ocean waters have struck on land after years of trying to prevent attacks at sea. However, fisherman Kahin Abdurahman said that forces should instead send ground troops capable of distinguishing between pirates and civilians. "The international forces should stop flying helicopters and firing missiles from the sky," Abdurahman said. "If they need to, then their operation must distinguish between local fishermen and pirates, so they must deploy foot soldiers on the ground." The EU naval force said no Somalis were injured in Tuesday's strike, and that the attacks were focused on "known pirate supplies" -- prompting a furious response from pirates. "If they continue attacking Somali coastal villages, then there will be terrible consequences," said Abdi Yare, a pirate chief in the notorious pirate base of Hobyo, on the central Somali coast. "The so-called anti-piracy forces are now engaging in a very dangerous part of their mission." The pirates are believed to be holding dozens of ships and hundreds of sailors for ransom, and have also branched out into land-based kidnapping.  Nine EU warships are currently deployed by France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and The Netherlands. Several other nations, including Russia and China, also provide protection for their ships as they pass through the busy shipping route through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Piracy has flourished off war-torn Somalia, outwitting international efforts -- including constant patrols by warships and tough sentencing of the pirates they capture.  In January, a daring US-led commando raid rescued two aid workers -- an American woman and a Danish man -- held hostage in central Somalia.

Original here
Pirates either steal, rent or purchase small 20 foot fiberglass or plastic skiffs for their operations. There are both cheap Chinese foam filled versions or larger twin engine types. The cheaper Chinese version are stored aboard motherships for short runs, the larger skiffs can navigate many miles out to sea. A large multi engine skiff used by fishermen can $30,000 to $40,000 US dollars but they are typically not pushed up on land.
A small pirate skiff powered with an 80 – 100 hp outboard can travel up to 30 knots per hour. Pirate camps are differentiated from fishing camps by the presence of boarding ladders.
The area along the coast is remote and the presence of any activity is easily recorded and noted by numerous security forces off shore. These groups include the U.S., two Task Forces based out of Camp Lemonnier, the CIA supported Puntland Intelligence Services, the Puntland Marine Police Force, and both NATO and EU ships offshore.
There has been pirate movement in Hundelle area over the last few days as the hijackers of the MV Orna await a ransom drop. They have been sharing a camp with the holders of the Albedo. Sources from pirates told Somalia Report that the pirates in that area are now sleeping on the board of vessels – because they fear another attack from EUNAVOR.

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