Somalia Youth Coast Guard

May 2009
Activist Groups & Political Organizations;5/10/2009, p7
"Somalia Youth Coast Guard" is a name adopted by one of several pirate gangs operating in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The gangs have no official status in Somalia, nor do they appear to be linked to the continuing sectarian conflict that has left the country without an effective national government since 1991. Somalia Youth Coast Guard became notorious in late 2008 when it hijacked a Ukrainian-owned freighter that was carrying heavy weapons, including tanks. The ship was held hostage from the end of September 2008 until February 2009, when it was freed in exchange for over $3 million cash ransom. During the takeover, three hijackers died when an argument over how to dispose of the ship's cargo escalated into a shootout. The Somalia Youth Coast Guard--there are other similarly named groups, such as "Somali Marines"--are part of a growing problem for merchants in the waters off Somalia, where the number of pirate attacks soared in 2008 and continued to rise in 2009, causing several navies, including the U.S. Navy, to try to protect the scores of merchant ships in the region, including those coming from, or going to, the Suez Canal.


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