The INS Tabar, an Indian warship, encountered three pirate vessels approximately 320 miles south-west of the Omani coast in the Gulf of Aden late Tuesday. When the pirates fired upon the Tabar, it retaliated, sinking the “mother ship” and forcing the would-be hijackers to abandon one of their two speedboats. The second speedboat escaped and there is no casualty count at this time.
At least 92 ships have been attacked in and around the Gulf of Aden so far in 2008, more than triple the number in 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau. At least 14 of those ships are still in the control of hijackers. This includes a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery and other weaponry and a Saudi supertanker with two million barrels of oil valued at approximately $100 million. The pirates responsible for these attacks are mostly based in Somalia and the UN estimates between $25 to $30 million has been paid in ransom to them this year.
International anti-piracy patrols have been deployed in the area since August and international shipping organizations hope the Indian Navy’s actions set an example for addressing the hijackers. Meanwhile, the cost of increased piracy is expected to spread to consumers as shipping companies face higher insurance bills.
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