Piracy continues to thrive in northern Somalia (mainly Puntland). Last year, some 40o ships were attacked, and about a thousand civilian sailors were captured and held for ransom. Over $100 million in ransom was paid, after ships and crews were held, on average, for five months. At least a third of the captive sailors were abused in some way. About a third have been used as human shields, on smaller cargo and fishing vessels used as mother ships. All this causes little uproar in the West because most of the captured sailors are Indian or Filipino.
The pirates are increasingly carrying human shields on their mother ships, thus protecting themselves from attack by the anti-piracy patrol. However, the warships have taken to shooting up the speedboats (used for the actual attacks on merchant ships) towed behind the mother ships. This will force the pirates to haul the speedboats onto the mother ships (usually fishing ships or small cargo vessels).