More and more incidents of piracy are being reported daily in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia. On Tuesday, a Thai fishing boat was hijacked and its crew members taken hostage, the same day that a Saudi Arabian super tanker was captured. On Tuesday night, India’s naval patrol warship INS Tabar destroyed a pirate ship in the region.
Pirate ships such as this one have been attacking and hijacking ships in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia
It has been an uphill struggle ever since the Indian Navy decided to send its warships to patrol the Somalian coast against pirates.
The recent successful attack on the mother vessel of a pirate ship comes as a shot in the arm for its efforts in the region.
An Indian Navy spokesman, Nirad Sinha, said that the navy had sunk the pirate vessel in an exchange of fire on Tuesday night. The vessel reportedly opened fire when INS Tabar instructed it to halt and provide identification.
‘’On being fired upon, INS Tabar retaliated in self-defence and opened fire on the mother vessel. As a result of the firing by INS Tabar, fire broke out in the vessel, and explosions were heard,’’ said Sinha.
Asia will take concrete steps
The attack will probably spur on other Asian countries to take concrete steps.
Security analyst Uday Bhaskar said that Malaysia was now seriously considering some kind of joint response.
‘’I think this is a case of really being able to provide the equivalent of a collective good," Bhaskar said. "In that sense, India’s action is something that will be noticed in the region and it will also enhance India’s image in terms of its naval credibility.
Fear of copycat attacks
The attacks in Somalia have also sparked concerns of copycat pirate raids in Asia, where maritime crime is already a major problem.
According to a Singapore-based regional monitoring body against maritime piracy ReCAAP, Asia witnessed a total of 71 pirate attacks between January and September of this year alone.
Noel Choong, the head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting centre in Malaysia, said that criminal syndicates in Asia werelikely to be attracted by the huge profits made by the Somalian pirates.
Links between piracy and terrorism
Another concern is the close link between piracy and terrorist networks, said Captain Jan Otte from the German Navy, who was stationed on the African coast as part of the so-called Enduring Freedom operation.
‘’Organised violent crime, usually attributed to piracy, is linked to structures in the interior regions, which support terrorism,’’ said Otte.
There have also been instances in the past when terrorist organisations, such as the Abu Sayyaf group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Southeast Asia, have staged pirate attacks to help fund their operations.
There have been reports that militants inspired by al-Qaeda might plan maritime attacks in the Malacca Strait, and are even considering capturing a large ship to use as a ‘floating bomb’. There are now fears that Asian pirates could turn to terrorism.
Experts have called for thorough and complete security in the increasingly dangerous region of the Gulf of Aden.