Commentary: Stopping pirates a must

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Here's to India's navy. While much of the maritime world wrings its hands over the annoying pirates of Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula, an Indian frigate takes decisive action. On Tuesday the INS Tabar blasted a pirate "mother ship" out of the water.

It's about time. Pirates in the region have attacked 95 ships so far this year, boarding and hijacking 39. Typically they moor the pirated vessels just off the Somali coast and sit back to await shipowners' ransom payments, which are almost always forthcoming. Then they live it up in coastal villages that ransom money has turned into pirate-party boomtowns.

Some well-placed rounds of shellfire, not endless rounds of ransom-paying, might persuade these waterborne robbers to reverse course.

The U.S. Navy also has been on the scene for several weeks and says it has thwarted a number of attacks. It's largely a matter of luck: The pirates' tiny boarding vessels, serviced by larger "mother ships," infest a vast area of ocean. And shipping lanes there are loaded with lucrative targets -- freighters bound for the oil-rich Middle East, and even supertankers exiting the Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Coupled with near-anarchy onshore in Somalia, it's a pirate-friendly environment to say the least.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

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