- Title: SOMALIA: Pirates flee after coalition warships act off Somalia
- Date: 8th September 2008
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Somali) PUNTLAND MINISTER OF PORTS AND FISHERIES, ABDULQADIR MUSE YUSUF SAYING: "After we made further investigation till today we have extra confirmation that there was no any attack or strike, but what happened in that area is that the armed pirates who have increased recently their attacks against ships or vessels passing the Gulf of Aden. From Friday they carried out four attacks which were targeting four ships from Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand and China. Two of the ships passed very fast, the other two were given protection by the coalition forces and the pirates escaped. One of the speed boats that they were using and had four pirates capsized and after many hours in the water they came to Alula district in Bari region and they are safe. So what I can say is that there was no attack at all."
- Embargoed: 23rd September 2008 13:00
- Location: Somalia
- Country: Somalia
- Reuters ID: LVA3N4N1A4XSEJHI7V05S0NH5I3W
- Story Text: Pirates holding ten ships to ransom abandon attempts to hijack four more after intervention of coalition warships.
Somali pirates holding more than 130 crewmen hostage on ten ships were chased away as they were about to launch speedboat attacks on another four vessels - from Saudi Arabic, Singapore, Thailand and China - through the Gulf of Aden.
Two of the ships raced off, the other two were given protection by coalition warships.
But the pirates are still holding more than 10 boats for ransom at Eyl, a lawless former fishing outpost now used by gangs blamed for a sharp rise in sea attacks.
The hijackings have become commonplace especially in the northeastern region of Puntland. However, pirates often treat hostages well in the hope of hefty ransoms. Most captured ships bring ransoms of more than $10,000, and in a few cases much more.
The gunmen in Eyl are demanding a ransom of more than $9 million to free two Malaysian tankers, a Japanese-managed bulk carrier and a Nigerian tug boat.
Puntland Minister of Ports and Fisheries, Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, said in this latest foiled attack one of the speedboats, used by the pirates, capsized, but despite many hours in the water all four on board survived.
In a separate incident two French nationals were seized in their yacht last Tuesday and the French navy has said it is ready to try to free them.
They are said to be safe in a hilly village 750 km (466 miles) east of Bosasso, Puntland's capital.
A man claiming to be the pirates' servant told Reuters on Sunday an Iranian ship with 28 crew members including two Russians, two Pakistanis and a Syrian would soon be freed once the $2 million ransom agreed upon was paid.
Attacks at sea have boomed as lawlessness increased in Somalia, where there has not been a working government since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
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