The pirate stories keep coming thick and fast.
Earlier today I reported that the Danes had released ten captured pirates. Now comes a story that the Japanese have paid a cool $1.6 million for the release of their tanker.
Our forefathers broke the back of the Barbary pirate industry two hundred years ago, and the once-dreaded corsairs disappeared forever from the Mediterranean. You’d think we’d have learned our lesson, but now the history of the Barbary Coast is being recapitulated off the Horn of Africa:
Somali pirates free Japanese tanker for ransom
Somali pirates freed a Japanese chemical tanker and its crew today after a $1.6 million ransom was paid, a regional government official said.
The MT Irene was seized by gunmen on August 21 as it travelled to India from France through the Gulf of Aden.
Somali gunmen have seized at least 30 vessels this year and attacked many more in the world’s busiest and most dangerous shipping area connecting Europe to Asia and the Middle East.
“The pirates disembarked and the ship sailed away. Its 25 crew members are safe,” Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, assistant fisheries minister for Somalia’s northern region of Puntland, said without elaborating.
And now comes the really bad news: it looks like the Ukrainians are going to pay $8 million to get their tanks (and the ship’s crew) back. When the Russians took an interest in the case, I thought ransom was being ruled off the table. Vladimir, say it ain’t so!
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$8 million ransom deal
In the highest profile incident in years, Somali gunmen are holding a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weaponry.
Yesterday, an onshore associate of the pirates said an $8 million ransom deal was in the offing that might allow that ship to be freed within days.
The MV Faina has been held since the end of September with 20 crew on board. Its cargo includes 33 T-72 tanks which were en route to Kenya’s Mombasa port.
But don’t worry, folks — the UN is getting involved:
Earlier this week, the UN Security Council again called for a joint naval operation against the pirates, who have reaped millions in ransoms this year and pushed up insurance costs.
A joint naval operation commanded by the UN…
Why does this not fill me with confidence?
The air over the Indian ocean is echoing with pirate laughter.
Hat tip: LN.