DEFENCE MINISTER VISITS SOMALIA

Defence Minister Carme Chacon announced on Sunday that Spain will send a frigate and a support ship to Somalia as part of the mission the European Union will launch in January to fight piracy in the Indian Ocean. She made the announcement after landing in Jibuti early Sunday morning on her way to inspect Spain’s anti-piracy military presence in Somali waters. Somali is in chaos, countless children are starving and people are killing one another in the streets of Mogadishu, the capital, for a handful of grain. But piracy is thriving. Somali officials told reporters last week that this year, pirate profits are on track to reach a record $50 million, all of it tax free. He said: “These guys are making a killing.” More than 75 vessels have been attacked this year, including several Spanish fishing boats, far more than any other year in recent memory. In Somalia, crime is one of the few industries that pays. A former captain in Somalia’s long-defunct navy said: “All you need is three guys and a little boat, and the next day you’re millionaires.” As a result, criminals from all across the country are flocking to pirate dens along the Somali shore. It is not even clear whether Somali authorities want the piracy to stop. One pirate captain said his team usually divided up the loot this way: 20 percent for their bosses, 20 percent for future missions (to cover essentials like guns, fuel and cigarettes), 30 percent for the gunmen on the ship and 30 percent for government officials.

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