Somali pirates have seized two more vessels, as the UN anti-crime agency calls for a special maritime police force to operate in the Gulf of Aden. An Indonesian tugboat contracted to the French oil company Total, and a Turkish cargo ship, are the latest victims in a spate of seizures off Somalia’s coastline this year. To combat the growing threat the UN has authorised those fighting piracy to take action on land and in the air, subject to Somali permission. As many as 40 commercial ships have been taken off Somalia’s 3,000 kilometer coastline in 2008.
This crime surge, in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, has pushed up insurance costs, handed millions of euros in ransom to pirates in the Horn of Africa and prompted foreign navies to sail to the area to protect merchant vessels. The UN also granted permission for arrested pirates to be tried in the country of the arresting authorities. Antonio Maria Costa, director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said: “We can’t keelhaul pirates or make them walk the plank. They need to be brought to justice.”