September 27, 2012 -- The empty whiskey bottles and overturned, sand-filled skiffs littering this once-bustling shoreline are signs the heyday of Somali piracy may be over. Most of the prostitutes are gone and the luxury cars repossessed. Pirates while away their hours playing cards or catching lobsters.
"There's nothing to do here these days," said Hassan Abdi, a high school graduate who taught English in a private school before turning to piracy in 2009. "The hopes for a revitalized market are not high."
Armed guards aboard cargo ships and an international naval armada that carries out onshore raids have put a huge dent in piracy and might even be ending the scourge.
While experts say it's too early to declare
victory, the numbers are startling: In 2010, pirates seized 47 vessels.
This year they've taken five.
Press team from the capital, Mogadishu, traveled to the pirate havens of
Galkayo and Hobyo, a coastal town considered too dangerous for Western
reporters since the kidnappers have turned to land-based abductions over
the last year.
Abdirizaq Sale, a pirate, once
had bodyguards and maids and the attention of beautiful women. When
ransoms came in, a party was thrown, with blaring music, bottles of
wine, the stimulant khat and a woman for every man. Now he hides from
creditors in a dirty room filled with dust-covered TVs and high-end
clothes he acquired when flush.
being held longer, ransoms are getting smaller and attacks are less
likely to succeed," said Saleh, sitting on a threadbare mattress.
pirates hijacked 46 ships in 2009, the European Union Naval Force says.
In 2011, pirates launched a record number of attacks — 176 — but
commandeered only 25 ships, an indication that new on-board defenses
The last of the five hijacked
this year was the Liberian-flagged MV Smyrni, taken with its crew of 26
on May 10. They are still being held.
witnessed a significant drop in attacks in recent months. The stats
speak for themselves," said Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Sherriff, a spokeswoman
for the European Union Naval Force. She attributes the plunge in
hijackings mostly to international military efforts.
May, after receiving an expanded mandate, the EU Naval Force destroyed
pirate weapons, equipment and fuel on land. Japanese aircraft fly over
the shoreline to relay pirate activity to nearby warships.
Read the full story at the New Bedford Standard Times