Archive for the ‘hostages’ Category

Somai Pirates: Crew Makes Daring Escape

November 29, 2008

Two British ship security guards and their Irish colleague escaped kidnapping on Friday by jumping into the sea as Somali pirates hijacked a Singaporean tanker in the Gulf of Aden – the latest in a soaring spate of attacks.

By Mike Pflanz in Nairobi
The Telegraph (UK)
The men leapt overboard and were rescued by a German navy helicopter before being flown to the safety of a French frigate nearby.

At least another 25 of the crew, from India and Bangladesh, were still on the Liberian-flagged Biscaglia last night, a chemical tanker which was sailing through the pirate-infested waters between Somalia and Yemen.

The three worked for Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, a shipping protection firm headquartered in Poole, Dorset.

“APMSS are aware of an incident that occurred this morning on a chemical tanker Biscaglia,” said Nick Davis, a former pilot who set up the company earlier this year.

Somali hostages - British crew jump overboard as pirates hijack another tanker off Somalia

The men, who were rescued by the German navy, board a helicopter from the French Frigate to begin their journey home Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden.

“We have established procedures in place to deal with this and are working hard with the ship owners to assist in this fast developing situation. Our prime concern is the safety of all the people involved.”

Five pirates in a small open speedboat approached the Biscaglia in broad daylight yesterday morning and succeeded in boarding despite the security detachment.

Mr Davis’s firm uses a variety of non-lethal tools to keep pirates away, including audio and magnetic acoustic devices which broadcast messages and even debilitating sonic squeals over long distances.

It is not clear if this equipment was deployed on the Biscaglia.

Noel Choong, head of the piracy reporting centre at the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, confirmed that the ship sent a distress call at 0447 GMT.

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3533644/British-crew-jump-overboard-as-pirates-
hijack-another-tanker-off-Somalia.html

Somali Pirates Hijack Chemical Tanker, Release Greek Cargo Ship

November 28, 2008

Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three security guards who had jumped into the sea, officials said.

Greek authorities, meanwhile, said a Greek-owned cargo ship seized by Somali pirates more than two months ago was released Thursday and that all 25 crew members are unharmed. No details were immediately released.

A warship on patrol near Friday’s attack on the chemical tanker sent helicopters to intervene, but they arrived after pirates had taken control of the Liberian-flagged ship, according to Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The international naval patrols were set up to fight increasingly brazen pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia’s coast, a major international shipping lane through which about 20 tankers sail daily. Friday’s was the 97th ship hijacking this year.

–AP

The ship master had sent a distress call to the piracy reporting center, which relayed the alert to international forces policing Somali waters, Choong said. No details about how the pirates attacked or the condition of the crew were available immediately.

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The Sirius Star anchored off the coast of Somalia on November ... 
The Sirius Star anchored off the coast of Somalia on November 19. Somali pirates dodged an increased foreign naval presence in the Gulf of Aden to seize another ship as the deadline ticked down for a Saudi tanker held to ransom.

IN THE GULF OF ADEN (AFP) – Somali pirates dodged an increased foreign naval presence in the Gulf of Aden to seize another ship on Friday as the deadline ticked down for a Saudi tanker held to ransom.

They also freed a Greek freighter held since September, leaving 17 ships still in their hands despite their shrinking room for manoeuvre as foreign warships stepped up their efforts to contain a scourge threatening world trade.

Five pirates on fishing boats attacked the Biscaglia, a Liberia-flagged oil and chemical tanker, and boarded the vessel with a ladder, the commander of a nearby French frigate, Nivose, told AFP.

Three crew were fished out by a German navy helicopter after they jumped overboard to escape the pirates, said Jean-Marc Le Quilliec. The three rescued crewmen were later brought on board the Nivose.

The French frigate was escorting a Panamanian-flagged Norwegian bulk carrier and had attracted in its wake at least 17 other ships seeking protection but the Liberian tanker had stayed its course.

On Thursday, pirates also freed the Maltese-flagged Greek ship MV Centauri hijacked two months ago in the Indian Ocean, Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Association told AFP.

The Centauri, with an all-Filipino crew, was seized on September 18 some 200 miles (320 kilometres) south of Somalia’s lawless capital Mogadishu.

“The ship was freed yesterday along with the crew. It is on its way to Mombasa,” (Kenya’s main port), said Mwangura, adding that it was unclear whether any ransom was paid.

Manila confirmed that all 26 Filipino mariners on the ship were free and a spokesperson for the Navigation Maritime company in Athens said they were all in good health.

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somaliapiracyshipping_081128170718

Bombay attacks: India points the finger at Pakistan

November 28, 2008

India pointed an accusing finger at Pakistan yesterday as commandos fought suspected Islamist terrorists through the corridors of two of Bombay’s top hotels. Dozens of foreigners were still being held hostage or trapped in the buildings.

At least 125 people were killed and 327 wounded in Wednesday’s attacks on some of the city’s most high-profile buildings. Local hospitals and police said that the toll would rise further.

Nine foreigners were among the dead, including one Briton, a Japanese businessman, an Australian, a German and an Italian. Andreas Liveras, a 73-year-old British shipping tycoon, was shot dead moments after telling reporters that he was hiding in the basement of the Taj Mahal Palace.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office would not say how many British citizens were injured, trapped or being held hostage at the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels. Between 15 and 20 French nationals were inside.

Seven people were rescued from a residential complex that houses a Jewish centre. The Israeli Embassy said that ten of its citizens were being held hostage. A militant inside called a television channel to offer talks with the Government. He complained about rights abuses in Kashmir, over which India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars since 1947.

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http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/
world/asia/article5248664.ece

Mumbai: Death Toll Expected to Rise as End of Siege Appears Near

November 27, 2008

The crisis in Mumbai appeared to ease early Friday as Indian commandos scoured through two charred luxury hotels, searching for survivors of the bands of gunmen who unleashed two days of chaos here. A third group of gunmen, the remnants of well-organized squads of attackers, apparently remained holed up in a Jewish community center.
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Amid early indications that the sieges were ending, fears were growing that the toll would rise past the 119 known dead. Late Thursday, smoke was still rising from one of the hotels and people who escaped reported stepping around bodies. Dozens of people, perhaps many more, remained trapped in the hotels, though it was uncertain if any were being held hostage by the heavily armed assailants. The wounded numbered some 300.

There remained much mystery around the group behind the attack, unusual in its scale, its almost theatrical boldness and its targeting of locales frequented by wealthy Indians and foreigners.

SOMINI SENGUPTA and KEITH BRADSHER
The New York Times

Two men who claimed to be among the gunmen called local television stations, demanding to speak with the government. They complained about the treatment of Muslims in India and about Kashmir, the disputed territory over which India and Pakistan have fought two wars.

“Are you aware how many people have been killed in Kashmir?” a caller who identified himself as Imran asked. “Are you aware how your army has killed Muslims?”

The men said they were Indian, but the attacks appeared to ratchet up tensions in an already volatile region: In a televised speech, India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, blamed forces “based outside this country” for the attacks in a thinly veiled accusation that Pakistan was involved.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/28/world
/asia/28mumbai.html?_r=1&hp

Mumbai, India: Gunmen Kill at Least 78 in 7 Attacks, Possible U.S. Hostages

November 26, 2008

Teams of heavily armed gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular tourist attraction and a crowded train station in at least seven attacks in India‘s financial capital, killing at least 78 people and wounding at least 200, officials said Thursday. The gunmen were specifically targeting Britons and Americans and a top police official said the gunmen are holding hostages at two luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

A media report said a little-known group, the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Press Trust of India news agency said Thursday the group sent emails to several media outlets.

From the Associated Press

The gunmen also attacked police headquarters in south Mumbai, the area where most of the attacks, which began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning, took place.

“We are under fire, there is shooting at the gate,” said constable A. Shetti by phone from police headquarters.

Hours after the first attacks, A.N. Roy, a senior police officer, said police continued to battle the gunmen.

“The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed, the encounters are still going on and we are trying to overpower them,” Roy said.

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ing;_ylt=Ap80BwbyLcnxwqO5ndySr46s0NUE

Five Nations Meet In Emergency Anti-Pirate Discussions

November 20, 2008

A spate of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia has prompted an emergency meeting between nations bordering the Red Sea to deal with the problem.

Senior officials from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen are meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

BBC

It comes amid a report that pirates who hijacked a Saudi oil tanker on Saturday are demanding a $25m (£17m) ransom.

However, the Sirius Star’s owners, who are negotiating with the pirates, have cast doubt on that figure.

The Sirius Star, the biggest tanker ever hijacked, is carrying a cargo of 2m barrels – a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily output – worth more than $100m.

It is now anchored off the Somali coast with around 25 crew members being held as hostages.

Sirius Star off the coast of Somalia (US Navy image via Getty Images)

The Sirius Star has 25 crew – who are said to be unharmed.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7739153.stm

Somali Pirates, After Grabbing Biggest Prize, Negotiate for Loot

November 18, 2008

Vela International Marine Ltd, a Dubai-based marine company which operates the Saudi-owned Sirius Star, said it was working to secure the release of the supertanker and her crew.

A spokesman for the company said all 25 crew were believed to be safe.

The Saudi-owned vessel was hijacked on Saturday, 450 nautical miles south east of Mombasa.

The large oil tanker is owned by Saudi oil company Aramco but was sailing under a Liberian flag.

The Telegraph (UK)

Earlier, a spokesman for the Foreign Office had confirmed that two of those on board are British but could not give any details of their role on the ship.

US Navy spokesman Lieutenant Nate Christensen, of the 5th Fleet, said: “We don’t know the condition of the crew on board or the nature of the pirates’ demands. In cases like this what we typically see is a demand for money from the ship owners but we haven’t had that yet.

This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius ... 
This undated picture made at an unknown location shows the Sirius Star tanker conducting a trial run in South Korea. Somali pirates have hijacked the Saudi-owned oil tanker the Sirius Star off the Kenyan coast, the U.S. Navy said Monday, Nov. 17, 2008. The tanker owned by Saudi oil company Aramco, is 330 meters (1,080 feet), about the length of an aircraft carrier, making it one of the largest ships to sail the seas. It can carry about 2 million barrels of oil. Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, said the Sirius Star was carrying crude at the time of Saturday’s hijacking, but he did know how much.(AP Photo/ Newsis via Daewoo shipping yards and commissioned )

“We don’t know exactly where they are taking it but we know the town of Eyl is a pirate stronghold.”

Eyl is in the northern Puntland region of Somalia and has become notorious for pirate activity over the past months. Dozens of ships are thought to be being held captive there.

The supertanker is the largest ship to fall victim to pirates, the US Navy said. It is 1,080ft (330m) long and can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

The hijack, which was the first successful attack so far out at sea, raises fears that international patrols nearer the coast and in the Gulf of Aden will not be enough to protect vital trade routes as pirate gangs become ever more audacious.

The Sirius Star was carrying a cargo of crude oil and had 25 crew members on board when it was attacked.

Related:
Somali Pirates Capture Biggest Prize Ever: “Supertanker” Loaded With Oil

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indianocean/somalia/3475792/Somali-pirates-open-t
alks-for-release-of-hostage-crew-on-oil-tanker-
Sirius-Star.html

US says Afghanistan insurgent leader captured

November 15, 2008

Afghan and coalition forces captured an insurgent leader in eastern Afghanistan, and in a separate operation 10 militants were killed in a firefight, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S. forces said they grabbed a “key insurgent leader” in a joint raid with Afghan police Friday in a village in eastern Ghazni province. No shots were fired in the raid, the statement said.

By HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press Writer

Policemen outside Kabul. The US-led force in Afghanistan said ... 
Policemen outside Kabul. The US-led force in Afghanistan said Saturday its troops had killed 10 militants, including foreign fighters, in an operation against the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani militant network(AFP/File/Massoud Hossaini)

The captured man is responsible for the deaths of Afghan troops, bomb attacks on coalition forces and the kidnapping of aid workers, according to the statement. A spokesman declined to give further information on the leader’s identity while they search for his confederates.

Coalition forces also killed 10 militants in a strike against a bomb-making cell in the eastern Paktya province Friday, the U.S. military said.

The troops were targeting several key figures in a network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader believed to operate out of Pakistan, the military statement said.

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afghanistan;_ylt=ArC9xsoxOh1T33MQ2AqSpWms0NUE

European Union Sends Naval Force to Deter Pirates

November 10, 2008

The European Union launched Monday a security operation off the coast of Somalia — its first-ever naval mission — to combat growing acts of piracy and help protect aid ships.

Dubbed Operation Atalanta, the mission, endorsed by the bloc’s defence ministers at talks in Brussels, will be led by Britain, with its headquarters in Northwood, near London.

“Britain is a great military power, it’s a nice symbol that this operation be commanded by a British officer and from a British headquarters,” French Defence Minister Herve Morin said, after chairing the meeting.

“It is a great symbol of the evolution in European defence, and I would say, of its coming of age,” he told reporters.

The so-called EUNAVOR operation will be made up of at least seven ships, three of them frigates and one a supply vessel. It will also be backed by surveillance aircraft.

A Kenyan man (R) talks with two officers from the Italian navy ...
There are also NATO ships on anti-piracy patrol.  Here a Kenyan man (R) talks with two officers from the Italian navy on the deck of their destroyer Luigi Durand De La Penne in Mombasa, November 6, 2008. The Italian warship is operating under the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and together with the British military vessel HMS North Umberland conducts maritime operations off the coast of Somalia to allow the World Food Program (WFP) to fulfill its mission of providing humanitarian aid to Somalia. NATO has increased operations following recent attacks on vessels by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.REUTERS/Joseph Okanga (KENYA)
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It will include contributions from eight to 10 countries including France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, with Portugal, Sweden and non-EU nation Norway also likely to take part.

“Our participation in the Somalia project is an important one,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters.

“This is obviously a very challenging project but one that European leaders are approaching with real humility as well as determination,” he said.

The EU initiative was taken after Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed urged Somalis and the international community to combat rising piracy off the lawless nation’s waters.

Last month, a maritime watchdog said Somali pirates were now responsible for nearly a third of all reported attacks on ships, often using violence and taking hostages.

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piracyeu;_ylt=Ai2kuEmPNfOgovY2seIT3J.s0NUE

The Latin Crisis

March 24, 2008

By Kay Bailey Hutchison
The Washington Times
March 24, 2008

This month Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez opened the next phase of his dangerous political career by nearly provoking a war with Colombia. In the aftermath of his military threats, the Colombian government learned disturbing information about the relationship between Mr. Chavez and the terrorist group FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chavez called President Bush
“El Diablo” or the devil while addressing
the United Nations….

In light of those revelations, and their implications for U.S. national security, perhaps it is time the Bush administration placed Venezuela on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
On March 1, the Colombian military retaliated against numerous unprovoked FARC attacks in their territory and struck one of their clandestine camps — in Ecuador, killing one of the organization’s top leaders. FARC, a formerly Soviet-backed insurgency, today makes a living off international kidnapping, drug trafficking and terrorism. It still holds hundreds of hostages for ransom, including American missionaries and a former Colombian presidential candidate. It has been designated as one of the world’s leading terrorist organizations by the State Department.
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In the days after the raid, Colombia uncovered e-mails in which FARC operatives reported, after meeting with Mr. Chavez, that significant financial support and even munitions would be forthcoming from the Chavez government. Evidence suggests Venezuela may have provided as much as $300 million to FARC since Mr. Chavez came to power.
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If indeed Venezuela has provided money, weapons and other logistical or diplomatic support to FARC, it is guilty of supporting terrorism, a grievous violation of international law. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the obligation of all states to refrain from assisting terrorists or tolerating their presence inside the country. The United States does not distinguish between terrorists and those who harbor them and support them — and neither should any of our allies.
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Venezuela must now be held accountable for its descent into a terrorist haven, and Ecuador should not protest when free countries, like Colombia, step across boundaries to protect innocent lives from plotting terrorists. On March 17, when the Organization of American States held its summit in Washington, it missed an opportunity to take a strong stand against terrorism and instead passed a resolution condemning Colombia’s actions in self-defense.
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While imposing additional sanctions on Venezuela could cause adverse short-term economic consequences, Mr. Chavez needs us more than we need him. Venezuelan oil has an extremely high-sulfur content, which requires special refineries to turn it into gasoline. Most of those refineries are in the Southern U.S. along the Gulf Coast. In short, Venezuela would have a very hard time finding other buyers if it loses its most important customer.
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And with the increased willingness of Venezuela’s military to stand up to Mr. Chavez — not to mention his sinking popularity among the public — the United States is one customer Mr. Chavez can’t afford to lose.

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