The return of piracy in Somalia's coastline?
MOGADISHU, Somalia - A few days ago, suspected pirate groups forcefully took off with a fishing vessel at the coast of Qandala within the Bari region in Puntland, the northern state of Somalia. To date, the whereabouts of the vessel remain unknown, raising safety concerns about Somalia's coastline, which had been peaceful.
Authorities in Puntland insist the vessel was taken by a group of pirates whose activities are surging after years of calm within Somalia. This incident follows a recent pattern where pirates, using international waters near Somalia, hijacked a fishing boat from the Eyl coasts.
For almost a decade and following stiff security measures, piracy had drastically reduced along Somalia's coastline but the situation is now changing, in what could trigger another wave of operations within the country. Somali waters were once considered unsafe for travel.
On Wednesday, American and British officials issued warnings to ships operating in regions ranging from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden in response to the recent series of incidents and reports of increased activity in the region.
Already known as an area of increased risk for merchant shipping, several lines have acknowledged recent changes in their operations due to the increased activity as well as the threats due to the Israeli war against Hamas, Middle East Eye reports.
“Exercise caution when transiting these areas and remain cognizant of evolving threats in this region,” the U.S. Maritime Administration wrote in an alert issued on November 27. MARAD referenced the boarding of the Liberian-flagged tanker Central Park by “unknown armed entities and subsequently release,” as well as the reported attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle [UAV] on the Maltese-flagged CMA CGM Symi. For U.S. commercial vessels operating in these areas, MARAD recommended reviewing advisories for amplifying information and points of contact.
Already, five suspected Somali pirates are in the custody of the US Navy after a repulsed piracy attack targeting a Liberian-flagged tanker M/V Central Park on Monda. This incident, confirmed by the Pentagon, highlights the stubborn maritime security challenges in the region.
Chinese naval vessels off the Horn of Africa allegedly ignored to respond to a distress call from an Israeli-owned tanker that came under attack by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday, according to the Pentagon.
Investigations indicate that the M/V Central Park, managed by London-based Zodiac Maritime and associated with an Israeli firm, found itself under siege on Sunday when five armed individuals attempted to breach the crew's cabin.
"The crew [of the Central Park] was able to lock themselves into a safe haven," reported Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder at a Pentagon press briefing. Ryder described the event as piracy-related. "The Mason sent out a visit, board, search, and seizure team on the water that stopped the small boat. They detained the individuals," Brig. Gen. Ryder explained, highlighting the U.S. Navy's decisive action.
Pentagon says the attackers attempted to flee in a small boat, which the Mason pursued, firing warning shots to halt their escape. Subsequently, the Mason's crew apprehended the attackers, who are now detained onboard the destroyer.
The surging cases of piracy in Somali waters come at the time the country is engaged in the fight against Al-Shabaab, a group that is behind instability in the Horn of Africa nation. In recent times, Somalia has also started training naval crew who will be responsible for security within get 3,333 kilometers coastline.