Somali pirate kingpin missing, presumed captured

The whereabouts of one of Somalia’s pirate leaders is unclear with speculation mounting that Aw Koombe, a man responsible for many hijackings over the years, has been apprehended by the Chinese navy.

The Chinese and Indian navies helped thwart an attack on a bulker called OS 35 over the weekend. The Voice of America is reporting that Abdikarim Salah aka Aw Koombe could not leave the ship in time and was likely taken by Chinese naval forces. He has not been since and two of his accomplices who made it back ashore claim the pirate kingpin as well as two others were captured.

The Chinese navy, while trumpeting about the successful anti-piracy mission (and notably failing to mention the work done by its Indian counterparts) has yet to mention whether it captured any pirates during the raid.

Meanwhile, Somali forces who had surrounded pirates holding hostages taken from an Indian dhow secured the surrender of 10 members of the gang on Tuesday

“The remaining three pirates will be taken out by their parents in the coming hours. We shall rescue the nine crew soon and they will rejoin their two colleagues on the ship,” a local mayor told regional media.

After a five-year hiatus piracy has suddenly reappeared off the Horn of Africa in the past month.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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