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Monday, September 17, 2012

Somali Pirates: Were innocent fishermen killed by counter-pirate forces?

Bloomberg report, "Fighting Piracy Goes Awry With Killings of Fishermen", in which it is alleged that "Russian soldiers" riding a Norwegian ship fired upon and killed a Yemeni fisherman:
From 500 meters (1,640 feet) away, gunshots erupted from the tanker toward Quanas’s skiff and its unarmed fishermen. Two rounds pierced the water on the motorboat’s starboard side, and a third slammed into Quanas’s face, just under his right eye, according to survivors on the boat and a Yemeni Coast Guard investigation. As the bullet came through the back of his neck, Quanas moaned, held out a hand, collapsed and died.
Russian soldiers aboard the Norwegian-flagged ship fired the bullets that August day, according to a report from a private security team that was also on the tanker. The soldiers had been temporarily assigned to the Nordic Fighter by their country’s navy to protect the vessel as part of a Russia-led convoy navigating toward the pirate-infested Gulf of Aden, which some 23,000 ships use to move goods between Europe and Asia annually.
Quanas, who was about 38 when he died, is one of at least seven Yemeni fishermen who have been shot and among five killed since 2009 by soldiers assigned to deter pirates, according to records supplied by the Arabian Peninsula nation.
The Russian Navy denies responsibility for Quanas’s death, as does the company that owns the Nordic Fighter.
This incident is reported to have occurred in the Red Sea, placing it in interesting jurisdictional territory.

No one is being prosecuted, a noted in the Bloomberg piece:
Generally, incidents in international waters are governed by laws of a ship’s flag state, says Christoph Hasche, managing partner of Fleet Hamburg, a law firm specialized in international shipping and trade.

Prosecutors in Norway decided against opening an investigation, in part because of the hurdles in taking soldiers to trial, says Siri Frigaard, chief public prosecutor and director of the Norwegian National Authority for Prosecution of Organized and Other Serious Crime. She said information in the file indicated the Russian soldiers fired their weapons, but declined to provide other details, citing Norwegian police secrecy laws.
While the piece asserts that such incidents are "likely" in a sea with lots of armed men protecting ships from other armed men, it avoids placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Somali pirates, whose actions, after all, are the primary reason all those armed men protecting ships are out there.


  1. Hello,
    Get a new chart, please, Ethiopia is no longer shoreline of the Red Sea. And that can change a lot of things.
    The problem of innocent fishermen killed by armed guards is important. You can not remove the issue of innocent fishermen blaming Somali pirates.

    1. Fixed the map - pre-coffee unforced error, thanks for calling it to my attention.

      No killing of innocents is unimportant. I have long asserted that local knowledge of fishing patterns and learning the subtle differences between honest fishermen and pirates is vital in the area. In this case, if the facts are as alleged, it appears poorly trained military personnel acted wrongly. Training and discipline are vital for any form of armed guards riding these ships.

      Not trying to"remove" any issue, just pointing out that if there weren't bands of thugs operating mainly out of Somalia, there also wouldn't be any need for armed guards on ships transiting through these waters and, thus, less risk for innocent fishermen.

      These fishermen could help counter-piracy forces by reporting the presence of suspected pirates.

  2. OK, no problem. I agree with you.
    Fishermen will help "somalian" forces ... when they exist !

  3. Anonymous11:01 AM

    nice shooting. face shot at 500 yrds on rolling ship. hatip to the ruskie.