A British-backed international effort is making the Seychelles the frontline in the battle against Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
There are believed to be four ships and 108 hostages currently being held by pirates in the region, who have made a fortune from what is effectively armed robbery and kidnapping at sea. However, Sky News reports that the number of attacks has fallen dramatically over the past year, thanks largely to high-intensity multinational naval patrols and the presence of heavily-armed guards on cargo ships. Now the Regional Anti-Piracy, Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC) hopes to boost the fight against piracy by bringing together policing skills more commonly associated with organised crime, people trafficking, drug smuggling, gunrunning and money laundering. The centre is funded largely by Britain and headed by a senior officer from the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt notes that 26 000 ships a year pass through the region and a third of the world’s oil is carried across the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. ‘People here reckon there are about a dozen people, that’s all, who are controlling this trade and we’re targeting them with information, particular skills to make sure evidence can be presented so that people can be prosecuted. It’s very important to go after them and that’s what we are doing.’