Monday, March 7, 2011

Another Horn of Africa Update: U.S. Commandos Re-Take Japanese Tanker; Danish Yacht Seized by Pirates

OMAN: U.S. Commandos have boarded a Japanese oil tanker that was seized by pirates off the coast of Oman and re-taken the vessel without firing a shot on Sunday.
Twenty-four crew members on the MV Guanabara took refuge in a protected part of the vessel after reporting they were under attack Saturday, roughly 328 nautical miles southeast of Duqm in southern Oman.

A special unit from the destroyer USS Bulkeley boarded the oil tanker Sunday and detained the suspected pirates, according to a news release from the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). No shots were fired and no injuries were reported.

"The ships and aircraft under my command have today scored a real and immediate victory through the disruption of a suspected act of piracy and the detention of individuals believed to be engaging in piracy," CMF's counter-piracy commander, Abdul Alheem, said in a statement.
Two vessels from the NATO counter-piracy task force- the USS Bulkeley and the Turkish frigate TCG Giresun- received a distress call from the Guanabara and shadowed the vessel before it was boarded by the commandos.

The captured pirates will reportedly face trial in Tokyo.

PUNTLAND: Seven Danish nationals were captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean on Feb. 24th after their yacht was seized. This captives includes a family of five (the parents and three children) as well as 2 crew members.

An official from the village of Bandarbeyla in Puntland said that it was likely the Danes were being held in a mountainous region called Hul Anod. The official also said that a warship was spotted some 1.5 miles off the coast of the village and cautioned against any sort of military operation after the massacre of 4 Americans at sea last month.

According to piracy expert, the average ransom payout for a large shipping vessel and its crew is in the neighborhood of $5 million. A couple from the UK were released in September 2010 reportedly after a ransom of $1 million was paid out.

MOGADISHU: Somali officials have reported that an American from Alabama who joined the Al Shabaab Islamist group was killed in clashes with soldiers from the Somali transitional government and African Union peacekeepers this week.
Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi told The Associated Press that Somali officials do not have a body and that the intelligence reports have not yet been confirmed.

"We have information saying that he died," Fiqi said. "I'm not sure 100 percent sure but this is the information that we get from different sources. We need to make sure."

Omar Hammami, who grew up in the middle-class town of Daphne, Alabama, joined the al-Qaida-linked Somali militants in 2007 while he was in his early 20s. He became the most high-profile American member of al-Shabab and had taken on the nom de guerre of Abu Mansour al-Amriki, or "the American."
Forces from the Somali transitional government, backed by African Union peacekeepers have been mounting a countrattack against the Islamist al Shabaab militia. On Monday, the Somali and multinational forces were able to seize control of the border town of Bulo Hawo- along the Kenyan and Ethiopian border- from Al Shabaab; the first time forces from the UN-backed Transitional government were able to exert control over territory outside of Mogadishu.

[hat tip: Jammie Wearing Fool]

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