The end of the monsoon also heralds the season for brave – or these days, foolhardy – cruising sailors to venture across the Indian Ocean in an attempt to take the short route via the Red Sea to the Mediterranean.
Pirate gangs already hold a grim trophy haul of at least 49 vessels and over 500 hostages, including South African cruising sailors Bruno Pelizzari and Deborah Calitz, now in captivity for almost a year. The ships were captured mainly through the use of small skiffs, grappling hooks and rocket-propelled grenades. The yachts, with low decks, small numbers of crew and usually unarmed, are easy prey.
The scope and aggression of the pirates has increased exponentially in the last couple of years, with murders and threats to murder a frequent occurrence and attacks spread over most of the northern Indian Ocean.
‘The pirates are gearing up and preparing to send out their attack teams,” said Hans Tino Hansen, managing director of Denmark-based Risk Intelligence.
Pirates try to settle ransoms and release boats towards the end of the monsoon, so as to increase resources for future attacks when a calmer ocean allows small pirate boats to travel far out to sea, Hansen added.
Piracy has flourished in war-torn Somalia, outwitting international efforts — including constant patrols by warships and tough sentencing of the pirates they capture.
In a worrying development earlier this month, British holidaymaker Judith Tebbut was seized from a luxury northern Kenyan beach resort very near to the Somali border by gunmen who killed her husband during the attack.
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