The hijack success rate for Somali pirates has dropped sharply in recent months, a NATO official said on Monday, due in part to more merchant ships turning to armed security guards, razor wire and water pumps to protect themselves.
So a good point defense seems to work.
Improved international cooperation on combating piracy on land and at sea - covering an area four times the size of the Arabian peninsula - has been the cornerstone of efforts to tackle a problem costing the world economy up to $12 billion a year, a spokesman for NATO's counter-piracy force in the Indian Ocean said.
"Only six vessels have been pirated for ransom in the last eight months, compared to 36 in the preceding eight," Lieutenant Commander Mehmet Elyurek told reporters on board the TCG Giresun, the Turkish flagship of the force that operates off the Horn of Africa.
The rate of successful hijack attempts had "almost returned to pre-crisis (2007) levels."
John Steed, a former head of the United Nations counter-piracy unit, has said a major reason for the drop in the number of vessels hijacked is that the pirates got so rich last year.
But increased use of armed private security guards, and other defences like pirate-pummelling water pumps and razor wire are also helping reduce the number of successful attacks on merchant ships.
"Armed security guards on board the merchant vessels is very effective means of protecting them," Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun, the commander of the SNMG2 said. "We welcome all these protection measures."
Nine pirated merchant ships are still anchored off the Somali coast waiting for ransom payments from their owners, and an Iranian sugar ship hijacked last week near the Maldives is on its way to Somalia, he said.
It can't be intercepted before arrival because...
Pirates held 1,026 hostages last year but after some $146 million in ransom was paid to free 30 vessels, the number of hostages has fallen to 236, according to NATO figures.
Ironic, indeed. I don't know whether the fuss was over men with guns (oh noes!) or that the pirates (indigenous brown-skinned people engaging in their charming tribal customs) might get shot without due process.
Rather than iron-clad protection, security often means simply making it difficult enough that the baddies to go somewhere else for their boodle. Compared to the expense of losing and ransoming a ship and crew, men with guns sounds very cost effective.
Seems like we won't need the Q ships after all.
Posted by: Steve White ||
On a slightly more serious note, I get the concerns some had about arming merchant ships. There were issues about ports, arms training and handling, storage, licensing and so on. I get that it's a thorny problem, but it wasn't an insolvable problem.
Lo and behold when the insurers got tired of paying, and the owners got tired of paying, and the sailors got tired of sitting in stir in Puntland, the problem got solved.
Posted by: Steve White ||
Piracy costs "costing the world economy up to $12 billion a year."
Better impose an individual mandate for piracy insurance...
Posted by: American Delight ||
(AFP) -- Al-Qaeda cut-throats killed seven coppers Sunday in an attack on a checkpoint in Yemen's southeast, a security official said, a day after festivities between the army and cut-throats left 40 dead.
"A group of Al-Qaeda forces of Evil in two vehicles opened machinegun fire on a checkpoint, killing seven coppers" in Shibam, a town in the province of Hadramawt, the official told AFP.
Another security official told AFP that suspected Al-Qaeda gunnies riding a cycle of violence shot and maimed Colonel Abboud Fadhl, an intelligence officer, in the leg late Saturday in the southern province of Lahij.
Al-Qaeda-linked cut-throats from the group Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) have launched a wave of attacks in the region since former president President-for-Life Ali Abdullah Saleh ... Saleh initially took power as a strongman of North Yemen in 1977, when disco was in flower, but he didn't invite Donna Summer to the inauguration and Blondie couldn't make it... handed power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in February.
On Saturday, heavy fighting ... as opposed to the more usual light or sporadic fighting... between the army and Islamist fighters who tried to take over several military posts killed 40 people -- 28 soldiers and 12 cut-throats -- in Lahij province, officials said.
Al-Qaeda members also sabotaged a 320-kilometre (200-mile) gas pipeline linking Marib province to Balhaf terminal on the Gulf of Aden, all in the country's restive south, on Friday.
That came shortly after two US drone attacks in eastern Yemen targeted Al-Qaeda suspects, killing seven people, six of them krazed killers, according to an official in Shabwa province.
The Partisans of Sharia have exploited a central government weakened by a year of anti-regime protests to strengthen their position, launching deadly attacks against the army especially in the lawless south and southeast.
Last month, 185 soldiers were killed in a massive assault by Al-Qaeda cut-throats on an army camp near Zinjibar.
The United States says the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is the most active branch of the global terror network.
(Xinhua) -- An oil pipeline transporting crude from Yemen's central Marib province to an export terminal in the southeastern province of Shabwa was blown up on Monday night, cutting flows of Yemen's main pipeline, a security official told Xinhua.
"The crude oil pipeline in Mafrak al-Saeed district in Shabwa province was blown up at 10:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) by suspected al- Qaeda Death Eaters," the local official told Xinhua by phone on condition of anonymity.
"A huge blaze could be seen until now since the kaboom took place one hour ago," the official added.
It was the second kaboom targeting Yemen's pipelines in less than four days, after the Yemen-based al-Qaeda wing grabbed credit for bombing a gas pipeline in Shabwa on March 30.
A kaboom in a working-class neighborhood of Istanbul injured two people on Monday, the private Dogan news agency said, hours after another device was disarmed in another district next to a five-star hotel in Turkey's biggest city.
It was not clear if the two incidents were related, but Kurdish separatists, Islamists, far-left groups and the extreme right have all carried out kabooms in Turkey in the past.
Ambulances went to the scene of the blast in Gaziosmanpasa, a run-down outlying area of Istanbul where far-left groups and Kurdish Islamic fascistihave been active.
Initial reports indicated two people were maimed, the agency said.
Earlier, police defused a device close to a five-star hotel and a former Ottoman palace in the Besiktas area of the city.
PESHAWAR: The Frontier Corps (FC) said on Monday that around 100 Afghan Taliban attacked a border post near Sahala in Mohmand ... Named for the Mohmand clan of the Sarban Pahstuns, a truculent, quarrelsome lot. In Pakistain, the Mohmands infest their eponymous Agency, metastasizing as far as the plains of Beautiful Downtown Peshawar, Charsadda, and Mardan. Mohmands are also scattered throughout Pakistan in urban areas including Karachi, Lahore, and Quetta. In Afghanistan they are mainly found in Nangarhar and Kunar... Agency and killed four soldiers.
The attack occurred in Olai, part of the Mohmand Agency, the FC said, adding that the soldiers retaliated the fire, killing 15 terrorists. The area is cut off to journalists and aid workers and it was not possible to confirm the corpse count independently.
A local official said, "Terrorists attacked an FC checkpost in Baizai on Sunday night, which triggered a firefight, killing four troops and 15 terrorists." Five troops were also injured and faceless myrmidons had infiltrated Pakistain from Afghanistan's northeastern Kunar province ... which is right down the road from Chitral. Kunar is Haqqani country..... , he said.
KARACHI: As many as six people bit the dust and another 28 were maimed on Monday during a daylong clash between protesters and police in Lyari.
People erupted into the streets after person or persons unknownrubbed out PPP leader Hasan Soomro.
Nabeel Gabool, member of National Assembly from Lyari, said Soomro was standing at Aath Chowk when the faceless myrmidons opened fire on him.
A People's Aman Committee (PAC) leader said over 20 people were maimed in the festivities. He also said the injured were shifted to the Lyari ...one of the eighteen constituent towns of the city of Karachi. It is the smallest town by area in the city but also the most densely populated. Lyari has few schools, substandard hospitals, a poor water system, limited infrastructure, and broken roads. It is a stronghold of ruling Pakistan Peoples Party. Ubiquitous gang activity and a thriving narcotics industry make Lyari one of the most disturbed places in Karachi, which is really saying a lot.... General Hospital, adding that five of them gave up the ghost.
The protesters demanded that the high-ups take action against police officials who took part in the "so-called operation".
The police claimed to have recovered a kalashnikov rifle and a pistol from the possession of alleged gangster Saqib alias Sakhi. Saqib was killed in a police 'encounter' in Chakiwara area on Sunday.
However, ars longa, vita brevis... taking advantage of narrow streets, Saqib's accomplices, Umer Katchi, Baba Ladla, Abdul Jabbar alias Jeengo, Taj Muhammad alias Taju and others had decamped from the scene. An inquiry has been ordered into the killing of Saqib and the Bloody Karachi ...formerly the capital of Pakistain, now merely its most important port and financial center. It may be the largest city in the world, with a population of 18 million, most of whom hate each other and many of whom are armed and dangerous... South deputy commissioner has been made the inquiry officer.
The dear departed were identified as, Ali, Qasim, Sharif, Zakir, Haq Nawaz and Hasan. The injured include Yasmin, Gul Bano, Yasir, Ghulam Nabi, Sajid, Barkat, Saqib, Sher Muhammad, Yasir, Chaman, Arif, Rehman, Muhammad, Javed, Shahab, Khalid, Shazad, Rashid, Saleem, Umer, Faheem, Shahid, Mumtaz, Saleh, Aftab, Imran, Shahzad and Aslam.
Several faceless myrmidons forced shopkeepers to close down their shops and also exchanged fire with the police the whole day.
On Monday evening, the Sindh government sent fresh reinforcements and deployed police commandos in the area.
Panic gripped the surrounding areas, including Kharadar, where gunshots were also reported. Unidentified assailants resorted to firing and also forced shopkeepers to close down their shops in Landhi, Lasbela Chowk and Nishtar Road areas. Meanwhile, ...back at the the conspirators' cleverly concealed hideout the long-awaited message arrived. They quickly got to work with their decoder rings... similar incidents were reported in areas stretching from Teen Hatti to Ranchore Line.
BANNU: An bomb went off in a guest room at the residence of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Rasta Baaz Khan. The blast caused partial damage to the room and no causalities were reported.
"Uwk! My knotty-pine paneling!"
Police sources said that unidentified people planted the kaboom. The ANP leader's house is situated in the Mamashkhel area of Bannu district. After the incident, heavy contingents of police and security forces rushed to the scene. Local sources said that security forces cordoned off the area and started search operation against the perpetrators.
(Ma'an) -- Hamas, always the voice of sweet reason, on Monday accused the Fatah-led Paleostinian Authority of detaining 79 members in the West Bank during March.
Some 32 former prisoners of Israel were among those jugged by PA forces, as well as 14 university students, Hamas said in a statement. Another 50 Hamas affiliates were summoned by PA intelligence services last month, the party added.
The Ramallah-based PA also fired a teacher and a doctor over their affiliation to Hamas, the statement said.
Meanwhile, ...back at the buffalo wallow, Tex and his new-found Indian friend were preparing a little surprise for the bandidos... the PA extended the detention of nine Hamas members despite court orders mandating their release, Hamas said.
Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in May 2011 and agreed to end political detentions.
HEBRON, West Bank: The Israeli military on Monday ordered dozens of Jewish settlers to evacuate a three-story building they occupied last week in the heart of the West Bank's most volatile city, saying they had entered it without receiving approval from defense authorities.
The settlers' entry into the house before dawn on Thursday has threatened to create another flashpoint in the tense city of Hebron. The West Bank city of 170,000 Palestinians, dotted by small enclaves housing about 700 of the most extreme Jewish settlers, has been a focal point of Israeli-Arab violence for decades.
Hebron settler leaders said about 10 settler families entered the house before dawn on Thursday after legally purchasing it from a Palestinian landowner.
A spokesman for the settlers inside the house, Shlomo Levinger, said they moved in the dead of night because they had received information that the Palestinian Authority had learned of the purchase and planned to take over the building.
Military spokesman Guy Inbar said the settlers were ordered to leave the building by Tuesday afternoon, because the house was occupied without the military's authorization, or be forcibly removed. He said the military was still determining whether the purchase was legitimate.
Hebron settler leader David Wilder said the decision was political and insisted the purchase was legitimate.
"There are people who don't want to see Jews living in Hebron," Wilder said. "We are going to do everything we can to see this order is annulled."
He would not say what steps settlers planned to take, but put the blame for the expulsion order on Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
JERUSALEM: Israel has placed a high-profile Palestinian prisoner in solitary confinement for a week after he called from his cell for a new wave of civil resistance, the Prisons Authority said yesterday.
Right to do but they're going to create more of a martyr...
Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004 after being convicted of multiple lethal attacks against Israelis, is seen by many Palestinians as a possible future leader and was a driving force in the uprising they launched in 2000.
Last week, he said in a statement that "the launch of large-scale popular resistance at this stage serves the cause of our people." He also said the prospect of ending Israeli occupation and achieving a state through negotiations was an illusion. Prisons Authority spokeswoman Sivan Weizman said that as punishment for issuing the statement, Barghouti "has been placed in isolation for a week and denied visits and access to the inmates' canteen for a month."
From prison, Barghouti's views continue to resonate with the Palestinian public. The 52-year-old leading member of Fatah enjoys support beyond his movement and across the spectrum of Palestinian factions.
Observers have speculated that Israel might at some point release Barghouti to strengthen the hold of the more secular Fatah movement on the Palestinian political scene and stem the popularity of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
Thailand's Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday visited the scene of the weekend's devastating car bombing at the Lee Gardens Plaza Hotel in Songkhla's Hat Yai commercial district. The premier pledged her government would step up security measures.
Hat Yai business owners and residents told the prime minister of the impact of the bombing. They urged the government to tighten security and adopt measures to restore confidence among tourists, the business sector and local residents. The prime minister also visited bombing victims at hospital.
Fourteen people were killed and more than 500 were wounded in a string of mid-day car bombings in Yala and Songkhla over the weekend.
On Monday, Thailand's army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said security personnel in the area will be deployed under the supervision of the provincial governor and police. while the military, normally stationed outside the city, will consider deploying more troops.
The army chief said that the attack was carried out by an offshoot of Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), with about 300 active members and some 6,000 sympathisers. General Prayuth reasserted that the attack was not the work of an international terrorist group. He was adamant that the government would never enter into talks with this group of insurgents.
UNITED NATIONS: Syria told international envoy Kofi Annan that its military will withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas by April 10, in what could be a first step toward ending the bloody yearlong conflict, UN diplomats said Monday.
Or that they've run out of rebels and civilians to massacre...
The announcement came as Syrian troops hunted down activists and destroyed their homes in the country's rebellious areas, and the United States remained skeptical of Damascus' latest statements, pointing to previous broken promises. Britain, France, Germany and a number of other countries also questioned whether Syrian President Bashar Assad would keep his word, the diplomats said.
"We have seen commitments to end the violence followed by massive intensifications of violence," US Ambassador Susan Rice said. "So the United States, for one, would look at these commitments and say, yet again, the proof is the actions, not in the words."
But the real proof is in what the West does if Pencilneck goes back on his word...
Rice said Annan told the UN Security Council he received a letter from Syria's foreign minister on Sunday with the April 10 date and indicated he would have preferred the pullback to begin earlier.
But it takes time to mop up civilians, Ms. Rice...
Annan urged the Syrian government to start the withdrawal immediately and move no further into populated areas, and "that commitment was provided," Rice added.
"Past experience would lead us to be skeptical and to worry that over the next several days rather than a diminution of the violence, we might, yet again, see an escalation of the violence," said Rice, the current council president. "We certainly hope that is not so. We hope the Syrian authorities will implement the commitments they made without condition or codicils."
Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the April 10 deadline was set "by common accord" between Annan and the Syrian government, and he again pledged his government's complete support for Annan's six-point plan to end the yearlong Syrian crisis.
Just as soon as Pencilneck is confident that he's won...
Annan told the council if Syria meets the April 10 deadline, and this can be verified, then the opposition would have 48 hours to wind down its military activities so there would be a complete cessation of hostilities, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because his briefing was closed.
Notice how the opposition gets the shorter leash. Of course by then they'll mostly be dead so it won't matter.
Rice stressed that the Syrian agreement was just on the pullout of troops and equipment from cities and towns. She said Annan, who briefed a closed council meeting by videoconference from Geneva, is expecting details from the Syrian government "very shortly" on the other aspects of the plan.
Annan is sending a UN peacekeeping team and some staff to Damascus this week to continue preparations for a potential UN cease-fire monitoring mission. The joint UN-Arab League envoy also was considering borrowing troops from UN operations in the Mideast, Rice said.
"We need some more White Land Cruisers!"
Rice said Annan asked the Security Council to support the April 10 deadline and start urgently considering a potential UN monitoring mission, which would need council authorization. Rice said the Council expressed its full support.
One of the key issues is trying to unite the many different opposition factions under a single umbrella. Rice said Annan's deputy, Nasser Al-Kidwa, has had "constructive exchanges with the opposition to urge them to cease their operations within 48 hours of a complete cessation of government hostilities." Al-Kidwa attended a meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Istanbul last week.
Assad accepted Annan's plan a week ago, but late Friday the Syrian government rejected Annan's call for the regime to halt violence first. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdessi said Friday the government will not pull tanks and troops from towns and cities engulfed by unrest before life returns to normal there.
That position may have changed, but Syria's Ja'afari said his government expects Annan to get similar commitments from the opposition.
"So far, the Syrian government says that it is committed and we are expecting Mr. Kofi Annan ... to get in touch with the other parties -- those who are involved with initiating, sponsoring and arming the armed groups also -- in order to make the stopping of the violence relevant to all parties," he said.
Key opposition figures joined representatives from more than 70 countries, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at Sunday's "Friends of the Syrian People" conference in Istanbul. The "Friends" pledged to send millions of dollars and communications equipment to Syria's opposition groups, pushed for tighter sanctions and diplomatic pressure to further isolate Assad, and urged the opposition to offer a democratic alternative to his regime.
Syria's Ja'afari lashed out at the meeting and its supporters.
"The so-called Conference of the Enemy of Syria in Istanbul is itself a violation and contradiction of Mr. Kofi Annan's mission," he said. "This is a parallel track set up by the enemies of Syria to compete with Mr. Kofi Annan's mission, not only maybe to compete, maybe to undermine his mission as a whole."
Ja'afari said those who want to send money to armed opposition groups or pay their salaries are committing "a violation and declaration of war against the sovereignty of Syria."
Earlier Monday, Russia raised pressure on an old ally, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying Syria's government must take the first step toward settling the country's conflict by pulling troops from city streets. Lavrov's statement at a briefing in Yerevan following talks with his Armenian counterpart appeared to reflect Moscow's increasing impatience with Assad.
Or just more of the game Russia, China and Iran is playing to keep the West off balance and unable to go forward with any plan.
Russia, along with China, has twice shielded President Assad from United Nations sanctions over his crackdown on an uprising in which more than 9,000 people have been killed, according to the United Nations. But Moscow also has strongly supported Annan's six-point plan.
Lavrov also warned the West against giving ultimatums to Damascus, saying that the priority now should be to separate the warring parties and open the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid.
"Ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help," he said. "We all want a quick end to bloodshed, but that demand should be addressed to all warring parties in Syria."
Lavrov said Russia didn't attend Sunday's meeting of the "Friends of the Syrian People" because its organizers had failed to invite Syrian government representatives.
Of course not. The Syrian government is not a friend of the Syrian people...
"I think such an approach is dangerous and contradicts Kofi Annan's efforts," he said. "We are trying to be friends of all the Syrians, and not just some part of the Syrian people."
He said that Moscow will soon host two separate opposition delegations for talks.
Continued on Page 49
Leb's state commissioner to the military court Judge Saqr Saqr has charged six Syrian nationals and three Lebanese with smuggling weapons from Leb into neighboring Syria.
The nine people were indicted on Monday by a Lebanese court for trafficking arms into Syria through the northern Lebanese area of Masharee al-Qaa.
Only four of the Syrians and two Lebanese of those indicted are, however, jugged whereas the three others remain on the lam.
According to Lebanese media, the Lebanese army had jugged the smugglers as they were driving two trucks loaded with ammunition ready to be smuggled into Syria and confiscated their truckloads of weapons
Syrian media had earlier reported that Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... has blocked an attempt by an armed terrorist group to break into into the country from neighboring Leb.
The smuggling of arms into Syria comes as the country has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011.
The West and the Syrian opposition blame Damascus for the year-long turmoil, but the government says "terrorists" are responsible for the unrest, which it says is being orchestrated from abroad.
Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Light of the Alawites... said on February 20 that "some foreign countries" are fueling the turmoil in Syria by supporting and funding "armed terrorist groups fighting against the government."
The Syrian army has killed at least eight gunnies in fresh festivities in northwestern city of Idlib, while freeing 66 people kidnapped by armed terrorist gangs in Homs.
Eight bad boyz were potted as fresh festivities broken out between the Syrian army and gangs in the northwestern city of Idlib on Monday. There are no reports on possible casualties from the Syrian army.
Meanwhile, ...back at the laboratory the fumes had dispersed, to reveal an ominous sight... the Syrian Army has managed to free 66 people kidnapped by gangs in the western city of Homs.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011 and many people, including security forces, have bit the dust in the violence.
The West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of killing the protesters. But Damascus ...Home to a staggering array of terrorist organizations... blames ''outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups'' for the unrest, stating that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
Syrian Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Before going into the family business Pencilneck was an eye doctor... said on February 20 that "some foreign countries" are fueling the turmoil in Syria by supporting and funding "armed terrorist groups fighting against the government."
Jennie Garth aka Kelly Taylor in "Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990--2000)" aka Valerie Tyler in "What I Like About You (2002--2006)" aka Jacqueline 'Jake' Cooper in "The Last Cowboy (TV Movie 2003)" aka Sarah Bennett in "Girl, Positive (TV Movie 2007)" aka Mary Fagan Bailey in "My Brother's War (1997)" (age 40)