Piracy ‘surge’ off Somali coast

Pirates seized five ships in a 48-hour period ending Monday.

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    A Greek Navy commando detained suspected pirates alongside a Greek frigate in the Gulf of Aden in this undated photo released by the navy April 1. Pirates off the coast of Somalia are attacking ships further out at sea in an attempt to evade the international anti-piracy naval force patrolling the Gulf of Aden.
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Pirates off the coast of Somalia have gone on the offensive, seizing five ships in 48 hours despite the presence of an international naval task force patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

The New York Times reports that the pirates are changing tactics by going after ships further out at sea. The five ships seized, according to Kenyan maritime groups, include a German freighter, a Taiwanese fishing trawler, a Yemeni tugboat, a French yacht, and a British cargo ship.

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The Times reports that the pirates netted more than $100 million last year in ransom paid for the return of hijacked ships.

The Associated Press reports that one of the latest ships seized by the pirates, the Taiwanese ship hijacked Monday was taken near an island in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

But the British ship was taken Monday in the Gulf of Aden, reports the London-based Daily Telegraph, showing that, even there, the pirates can avoid the international armada sent to deter them.

The number of pirate attacks spiked in March after a lull in January and February, reports Reuters.

Agence France-Presse reports that the pirates now hold at least 17 ships and more than 250 hostages.

With more than 1 million square miles of sea to patrol, the international naval task force has a difficult job foiling all hijackings, The Times of London reports.

The Times reports that the EU has an agreement to try captured pirate suspects in Kenya, and the first trial is due to begin this month.

Reuters reports that six suspected Somali pirates captured by the French lost an appeal Monday, in which they had argued their arrest and transfer to France was unauthorized.

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