Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Clash with Pirates

Two U.S. warships were involved in a clash with suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia early this morning. Sailors aboard the USS Cape St. George, which was patrolling in the Indian Ocean along with the USS Gonzalez as part of a Dutch-led maritime security operation, fired on a fishing boat in international waters after men aboard the boat brandished a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and fired on the American vessel. One suspect was killed, five were wounded, and twelve others were taken into custody.

This is the second encounter between U.S. Navy ships and suspected pirates this year. Last November, a luxury cruise liner was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. The cash-strapped Somali government signed a $50 million contract with an American company late last year to provide protection against pirates, but it is not clear what, if anything, the American company is doing about the problem.