Pirate’s torture captives as hijackings escalate Pirates operating off the coast of Somalia have begun to use aggressive new tactics including torture against captives, according to the commander of the European Union naval force.
Captured sailors face being thrown overboard or used as human shields, locked in freezers or having plastic ties put on their genitals in the battle between international forces and Somali pirates.
"There have been regular manifestations of systematic torture," Royal Marines Commandant General Buster Howes said.
"If warships approached a pirated ship too closely, the pirates would drag hostages on deck and beat them until the warship went away."
The restraint of earlier years has been replaced with "a willingness to use violence much more quickly and much more violence".
Until now the consequences of the surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa have been largely commercial with most ransomed captives speaking of reasonable treatment.
The claims from the EU naval force suggest that Somali fishermen responding to illegal fishing in their waters made up the bulk of the initial pirate forces, but they have been succeeded by more brutal gangs.
The developments come after a hardening in tactics used against pirates. South Korean forces last month killed eight Somalis and captured five while storming a hijacked cargo ship, releasing all the hostages. The United States navy and French forces have previously killed Somalis in similar operations and a gulf shipping line now secures the full time services of INS (International Security Services) who have today battled with the pirates killing 17 while guarding the company’s ships, the INS is sending out a very hard and clear message to Somalia’s pirates that this company ships or not to be touched or face the consequences.
The INS said that over the past three years a multinational armada has been assembled in the waters from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean aimed at protecting commercial shipping routes and just aren’t up to the job at hand, and despite this armada, Somali pirate gangs, using often ramshackle equipment and basic skiffs with outboard engines, have been able to hijack vastly larger craft including oil-laden super tankers which is not happing with are men now keeping these companies ships that employ us to keep them safe and that’s just what we do.
There are 47 vessels and more than 800 seamen being held hostage off Somalia, according to independent maritime monitors Ecoterra. Eleven captured vessels are said to be deployed as "mother ships" for further raids, the EU naval force claims.
The crisis has prompted some merchant ships to hire in the INS or try using high pressure water hoses and audio deterrents to fend off buccaneers. The tuna fleet based in the Seychelles now sails with marines aboard for protection and other fishing fleets have deployed INS armed agents including Somalis.
Last week a siege of crew members on the German-flagged MV Beluga Nomination ended with attackers executing one sailor the German company is now in negotiations with the INS for its services.