The war against pirates operating off the Somali coast took a step forward with a gathering of 24 countries at the United Nations. It is an attempt to fight back at the sea-borne raiders, who were successful in seizing ever larger and more valuable commerical ships for ransom last year.The meeting urged captains to offer no resistance if attacked for the sake of their crews’ safety. But it also came up with advice on what to do if there was a military counter-strike. An increasing number of countries have a naval presence off Somalia – with 23-million euros in ransom paid out last year, it is perhaps no surprise. At the trial of eight suspected Somali pirates in Kenya, the court heard evidence from British naval officers involved in the men’s arrest. The frigate HMS Cumberland handed them over to Kenyan authorities last November after a gunfight which left two pirates dead. Piracy has become increasingly brazen in waters of the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, driving up shipping insurance premiums.