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Surge In Piracy Attacks By Puntland Gangs Threatens To Close Down The Gulf Of Eden
The dramatic increase in Somalia 's pirate activity is said to have been fuelled by the huge ransom money being paid, coupled with the ineptness of western naval forces present in the region and the continued protection provided to the pirates by Adde Muse and Abdillahi Yusuf
Hargeysa, Somaliland, September 20, 2008 (SL Times) – The growing escalation in pirate attacks against ships threatens to shut down the Gulf of Eden , an international water way which lies between Yemen , Somaliland and Somalia .
A surge in pirate activities off the coast of the Puntland region of Somalia in the last 2 months has already disrupted Somaliland's much-needed food imports and livestock exports as it became too risky for commercial ships to go through the Gulf of Eden which is one of the busiest maritime routes in the world.
Regional as well as global trade has been also affected.
With the flurry of pirate attacks, insurance premiums soared and the combination of these two factors has already led to a substantial reduction in maritime traffic in the Gulf of Eden since August this year.
According to the International Maritime Bureau, 55 ships have been attacked off the coast of [Puntland] Somalia since January and 11 are still being held for ransom.
Somali piracy has a short history. It all began in 1991 following the fall of Somalia 's dictator Mohamed Siyad Barre. In that year the first pirate group started its operations by hijacking foreign trawlers fishing off the coast of Somalia 's Puntland region on the pretext that those vessels were blundering the country's fishery resources.
However the fishing boats were usually be released quickly after accepting to pay a small amount of money to the kidnappers for “violating territorial waters”.
It was this type of extortion money that later spawned piracy along the coast of Puntland .
In the last five years, piracy has become a multi-million business that employees over 1000 people in Puntland. Illicit activities such as piracy, human trafficking and smuggling of small arms and drugs now constitute the backbone of Puntland's economy.
Both Puntland's current ruler Adde Mussa and the president of Somalia 's transitional government Abdillahi Yusuf are known to get a share of the income generated by pirates, smugglers and traffickers in return for protection.
Now Puntland pirates are hijacking ships almost everyday in a sea lane that provided the shortest route from the Far East to Europe via the Suez Canal . Many global shipping groups have already announced that they would no longer be able to transit the Gulf of Aden , unless concrete steps were taken to safeguard the waterway from the danger piracy.
Western naval powers such as the US , France , Germany and others maintain warships in the region. However their patrolling of Somalia 's coast has largely been ineffective in terms of countering piracy, human trafficking and smuggling of small arms and illicit drugs.
On the same day that French commandos rescued 2 of their citizens from Puntland pirates earlier this week, another pirate group hijacked a chemical tanker.