Paying ransoms blamed for piracy
ADDIS ABABA - Somalia's prime minister said yesterday that foreign navies patrolling off his country's coast had failed to discourage piracy and condemned firms paying ransoms to gangs hijacking ships.
Somali pirates have made millions of dollars seizing vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, and have driven up insurance rates for merchant ships passing through the waterways linking Europe to Asia.
"The only reason people become pirates is because the companies are deciding to pay ransoms," prime minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke said in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
Sharmarke's government is trying to quell an Islamist-led insurgency onshore that has displaced one million people and killed thousands.
But international attention has focused on pirates in strategic sea routes. Organisers of a donors' meeting in Brussels this week say the transitional government needs about R1650million over the next year to build its security forces.
There were 18 pirate attacks off Somalia in March alone, the International Maritime Bureau says.
"The only way out is to have a Somali security force that can prevent piracy before it happens," Sharmarke said.
A US judge ruled on Tuesday that a Somali teenager accused of holding hostage a US ship captain would be tried as an adult in New York.
In a raid to free the captain earlier this month, US forces killed three pirates and captured Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse.- Reuters