Sunday, July 19, 2009

Somali Pirates: Over 5,000 Strong?

The Russians think there are 5000 Somali pirates, according to this report:
At least five large groups of pirates totalling over 5,000 people are operating in the Gulf of Aden, the first deputy chief of the Russian Navy General Staff has said.

"Pirates have become more daring and aggressive recently - there were instances when they seized vessels right in front of the ships that were responsible for the security of commercial shipping," Vice Admiral Oleg Burtsev said in an interview on Ekho Moskvy radio station Saturday.

According to the United Nations, Somali pirates collected $150 million in ransom payments from ship owners last year, while overall losses from piracy were estimated at $13-16 billion, including the soaring cost of insurance and protection for vessels, as well as sending ships on longer routes to avoid high-risk areas.

Somali pirates said Saturday they had released a German ship after receiving a ransom of $1.8 million. The German foreign ministry also confirmed that a German-owned ship had been released.

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