Saturday night saw a night mare scenario unfold for the passengers and crew of German cruiseliner MS Melody‚ in the Indian Ocean waters hundreds of kilometres off the coast. The more than 1.000 passengers, amongst them many German tourists besides a number of other nationalities and the crew were lucky that they had armed security personnel on board, which reportedly repelled the attack under heavy gunfire from both side.
A German navy unit was in the wider vicinity but reportedly unable to reach the scene of this latest terror attack by Somali pirates fast enough. At the time of filing this report no details were available about injuries of those on board or the fate of the pirates. The ship reportedly came from the Seychelles and was enroute to reach the Suez canal when being attacked some time before midnight on Saturday night. Earlier that day a German cargo ship was hijacked by the terrorists when again navy units were unable to stop the attack.
This column has repeatedly raised the issue but none of the widely demanded action has so far materialised, such as attacking the safe havens of the pirates on land, using either conventional air assets our of Djibouti or other bases in the region or unmanned drones similar to those used in Pakistan and Afghanistan to spot and deal with targets.
Recent action by the Canadian navy to let nearly a dozen pirates loose again because they did not attack a Canadian ship‚ sounds ludicrous enough and time is running out fast now to redefine the rules of engagement, using both naval and air assets in the region to aggressively pursue and neutralise pirate targets.
Reports from on site aid agency personnel in Somalia, received by email from them while on R&R at the Kenyan coast, also speak of increasing suspicions amongst them that sections of the pirates are in fact in league with militant Islamic forces aiming to take over Somalia once again, creating a potential training and replenishment ground for Al Qaida friendly units and recruits.
This column also raised very recently the spectrum of a cruise liner being hijacked, which could lead to a bloodbath amongst passengers.
Again the question is now raised, does it has to come to this to have the international armada around the Horn of Africa decisively engage the terrorists and deal with the menace once and for all?
Meanwhile the Somali Œleadership‚ is holding out the begging bowl asking for hundreds of millions of dollars to allow them Œdeal with the problem‚ but being there courtesy of African Union troops, mainly supplied by Uganda, immediately raises the question if they are serious enough or even have the capacity to prevent further acts of piracy. Watch this space.