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Somali pirates seize second ship -

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Somali pirates seize second ship

Broadcast: 19/11/2008

Transcript

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The Indian Navy has destroyed what it describes as a pirate mother ship off
the Somali Coast. The incident is the latest in a series of clashes involving pirates in the area
of the past fortnight.

On Saturday Somali hijackers captured the Saudi super tanker the 'Sirius Star' and tonight the
Arabic satellite television channel Al-Jazeera is reporting the pirates have made a ransom demand
for the tanker, but the vessel's owners are still refusing to comment.

Europe Correspondent Philip Williams reports.

PHILIP WILLIAMS, REPORTER: 90 attacks a year and rising. The cost of is staggering. Some estimates
put the total ransom bill at over $100 million.

What started as Somalis protecting their fishing grounds has developed into a high-tech hijack
operation using modern weapon, fast boats and satellite communication.

YUSUF GARAAD, BBC SOMALI SERVICE: They are a sophisticated group who has contacts in Dubai and
neighbouring countries and they have people who receive money on their behalf in other countries,
and at some point they received $5 million as a ransom.

And most of that money goes back to their operations by buying new boats, by buying weapons, by
setting up their network across Somalia and neighbours countries.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: Despite the US, British and other Navies now patrolling what's known as hijack
alley, it's too great an area to guarantee full protection. There are occasional successes: these
eight pirates were caught by British commandos just last week.

But most of the hijackings like the 'Sirius Star' are successful, funding ever more audacious
attacks.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, CHAIRMAN, US JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: They are proven to be pretty capable,
can get on and off lots of vessels. I mean, this is a 300,000-tonne, three times bigger than one of
our aircraft carriers.

But once there's an avenue to be able to get up on it they seem to be able to get on and takeover
which they've done in this case.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: With effectively no government in Somalia there are no authorities to deal with,
leaving ships, companies and registries to grapple with the problems themselves.

ARTHUR BOWRING, HONG KONG SHIPOWNERS ASSOCIATION: Incredibly bad. It's lawless on the coast and
shore, there's very little enforcement policing action going on there because there's a government
that's not fully effective in Somalia that the pirate gangs can really operate with almost total
immunity.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: With a crew, a cargo and a ship all at their mercy, the Somali pirates appear
untouchable. Ship owners will likely to have to start providing their own on board security.

GRAEME GIBBON-BROOKS, DRYAD MARITIME INTELLIGENCE SERVICE: What they're recommending is that ships
take responsibility for their own ship security, that they expand the area in which they consider
that there is a threat which is what happened on Saturday. And in some instances employ security
contractors to bolster their security.

PHILIP WILLIAMS: It's certain governments are going to have to beef up protection. In the meantime,
some ship owners are deciding these waters are simply too dangerous and they will take the long and
expensive way around the Cape of Good Hope.

Philip Williams, Lateline.