An Indian ship sailing from Dubai to northern Somalia has been hijacked while operating in the Gulf of Aden. According to a newswire published by Reuters, the ship was seized along with her crew of 11 sailors. This hijacking is the third incident in the last few weeks involving piracy, a threat that maritime security forces thought they had eradicated in 2012. All sailors aboard the vessel Al Kausar are from India. Somali government officials are sharing information with their Indian counterparts as military aircraft and patrol boats conduct a search and rescue mission to intercept the Al Kausar, which was last spotted off the southern coast of Somalia on Monday.
Naval forces from the European Union patrolling the coast of Somalia have reported three incidents involving piracy since late March; this development is being followed with great concern because it suggests that Somali pirates are once again getting organized and plying their criminal trade off the eastern African coast.In the middle of March, a Somali piracy crew seized the Aris-13, an oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates that was operating in the Gulf of Aden. Although the ship was eventually released by the pirates a few days later, the incident prompted a shootout that injured four bystanders. The criminals did not collect a ransom because they learned that the ship had been hired by a powerful Somali businessman.
Just two weeks after the Aris-13 incident, another Somali piracy crew hijacked a small fishing vessel that security analysts believe will be used to approach and attack larger boats. Furthermore, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations group reported that a ship navigating the Red Sea had been approached by six suspicious skiffs that may have been attempting a hijacking. Luckily, the would-be perpetrators were discouraged by the presence of armed guards aboard. Somali criminals operating at sea have not made a single hijacking or seizure since 2012. Somali piracy was very active from 2009 to 2012; during that period, the average rate of hijackings off the Somali coast was close to 200 per year. After the daring rescue by United States Navy Seals of the container ship Maersk Alabama in 2009, a multinational effort to eliminate piracy was conducted by NATO forces.
By 2012, acts of Somali piracy stopped completely until the three incidents mentioned above. These days, the Somali coast is heavily patrolled by military vessels and aircraft from the European Union. A Somali elder who was interviewed by the Associated Press explained that piracy was caused by an influx of foreign fishing fleets. When Somali fishermen were no longer able to make a living, they became pirates.