15.1.06

Pirates in the twenty first century

Just recently on the fifteenth of November 2005 pirates attacked a cruise ship full of tourists. Thankfully they didn't do any plundering because they weren't very good at pirating. When you think of pirates, its images like these from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean that probably come to mind Sword carrying scoundrels wearing earrings, funny hats and eye-patches Throw in the odd parrot and a mast sailing ship. But in reality this is what happens they board cruise Ships any vessel they believe will have twenty first century booty aboard' murder or mayhem can result. "And voila - a pirate Oh hang on... Arr me hearties the name's Captain Buck. How was that? Okay my pirate voice needs a bit of work. The good thing is I've got plenty of time to practice. International Talk like a Pirate Day isn't until September 19." And I bet none of you knew that well I never anyway while acting like a pirate might seem like great fun, piracy is no game. Pirates are criminals; some are murderers. They carry out armed robberies at sea, stealing everything from money and cargo to entire ships. They've been keeping pretty busy in recent years. The number of pirate attacks tripled between 1993 and 2003. Last year alone three hundred and thirty vessels were attacked by pirates - mainly cargo vessels in busy shipping lanes. And at least thirty people were killed. The most dangerous regions are the South China Sea, the Malacca Strait off Indonesia, waters to the West and East of Africa, South America and the Caribbean. This year East Africa has overtaken the Malacca Strait as the worst spot. Just recently a passenger liner was attacked in that region. Pirates fired grenades at the vessel. Twenty two Australians were among the passengers. Luckily the liner escaped and no-one was seriously hurt. So far the culprits haven't been found. Tracking down and punishing pirates is not an easy business. There are navy patrols, but there's also a lot of water to cover. Many attacks also occur outside a country's sea boundaries, so taking legal action against pirates get complicated. Some countries make the situation worse by not working with their neighbours. "The other problem is modern pirates don't exactly stand-out from the crowd. For a start they don't really walk around with a parrot perched on their shoulder and they don't carry a Cutlass either." As you have read, pirates use automatic weapons and have swapped massive sailing ships for speedboats. And these blokes they were accused of being pirates after authorities caught them looked just like you and me. Not an eye-patch, earring or three-cornered hat in sight to be seen either "The truth is while I may have got away with this outfit in the sixteen hundreds, or a fancy dress ball' these days pirates don't really have a dress-code. They basically look like you or I." with one difference they are utterly ruthless.

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