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Join war on pirates, Nato tells Africa

Thursday November 20 2008

Somali pirates are arraigned in the law courts

Somali pirates are arraigned in the law courts of Kenya's coastal town of Mombasa, November 18, 2008. The pirates were handed over to the Kenyan police after they were arrested by the British Navy for trying to hijack a vessel in the high seas of the Indian Ocean. Photo/REUTERS 

By DOMINIC WABALA and AGENCIES

Africa has been asked to lead the war against pirates in Somalia waters as maritime operators in Mombasa expressed fears that the increased hijackings could paralyse shipping and push up the cost of goods.

An official of Nato, an alliance of 26 nations, told African nations not to wait for the international community to fight the pirates who have hijacked 93 ships this year.

And in Mombasa, shipping officials said that the rise in hijackings of commercial ships was likely to paralyse maritime business in East Africa and force shipping companies to revert to the Pacific route to avoid the Gulf of Aden.

They voiced their concerns only days after a Saudi Arabia-flagged oil supertanker, Sirius Star, was captured at the weekend. The ship with 25 crew members became the largest vessel to have been captured in the history of piracy.

The attacks could also push up the cost of insuring ships.

“If this menace is not stopped immediately, it will have retrogressive effects on sea trade and may affect prices of basic commodities in the world,” said one official.

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