Somalia: Puntland patrol pinches pirates

A coast guard patrol from the independent Somali region of Puntland on Oct. 14 freed the 11-man crew of a hijacked ship and captured the 10 pirates who seized the vessel last week. Puntland’s special Rescue Commando Forces raided the Panama-flagged ship—the Wail—in the Gulf of Aden, Puntland Foreign Minister Ali Abdi Aware told CNN, adding that all of the rescued crew are now safe.

Ten pirates hijacked the ship, with its crew of two Somalis and nine Syrians, Oct. 9. Two coast guard members sustained minor injuries in the rescue operation. It was the Puntland forces’ second attempt to free the ship. On Oct. 11, a rescue effort triggered a gun battle that left two pirates and a Puntland soldier dead.

The Wail was hijacked while it was heading from Oman to the Puntland coastal town of Bosasso. It was one of more than 60 ships that have been attacked by pirates off the Somali coast this year alone—compared with about half that in 2007, according to a report released earlier this month by the London-based Chatham House think-tank. Pirates are still holding an arms-laden Ukrainian ship off Somalia’s coast, and demanding a $20 million ransom. (CNN, Sept. 14)

How ironic that Somalia’s de jure government, recognized by the international community, has only brought the nation’s worst violence since 1991 and is utterly incapable of confronting the pirates—while the unrecognized de facto government of Puntland has brought the region security and stability (by Somalian standards), and is even facing down the pirates who have mocked all the world’s Great Powers.

See our last post on Somalia.