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Tags: pirates | attacks | rise | somali

Somali Pirate Attacks Rise By Near 30 Pct

Wednesday, 26 May 2010 10:50 AM EDT

Pirates have stepped up their attacks off the coast of Somalia this year despite a large international naval flotilla designed to protect merchant shipping in the Horn of Africa region.

"The pirates are becoming more brazen," said Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a spokesman for the U.S. 5th Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Pirates launched 47 attacks in the region off the east coast of Somalia in the first four months of this year, up from 37 during the same period last year, according to U.S. 5th Fleet statistics.

Not all of the attempts were successful, but the increase reflects a shift in tactics by pirates. The heavy presence of international forces has forced pirates farther afield.

"They're going to greater lengths now," Barker said of the pirates.

U.S. officials have said the piracy problem can be solved only by establishing order in Somalia, a lawless country where pirates thrive.

"As we work to combat piracy's impact at sea, we are also working to address the conditions in Somalia that (have) allowed piracy to take root," said Robert Maggi, the State Department's counter-piracy coordinator.

Somalia, however, remains chaotic and even a large naval flotilla has struggled to provide security over the 1.1 million square miles of ocean they patrol.

"The answer is not sending billions of dollars of warships to chase a ship worth $1,000," said James Kraska, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College. "You're not going to win that game."

After a rash of pirate attacks in 2008, the international community rushed a flotilla of naval ships into the waters off the Horn of Africa in an effort to protect international shipping passing through the Gulf of Aden.

Today, there are an average of about 25 ships patrolling the area.

The naval forces have established a 464-mile-long corridor for about 33,000 vessels that use the Gulf of Aden each year.

"Within this corridor, the pirates' success rate has fallen to nearly zero," Maggi said.

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Wednesday, 26 May 2010 10:50 AM
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