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UN envoy condemns rise in Somalia piracy

NAIROBI, April 10 – The United Nations’ top envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah has condemned the recent surge in piracy off that country’s coast and called for a resolution to its 18-year conflict.

Ould-Abdallah said the seizure of six ships since last weekend, including a Danish-owned vessel with 20 American crew attacked Wednesday, highlighted the need to resolve Somalia’s protracted unrest.

In a statement, he said piracy threatened "freedom of navigation, political and economic stability in the region, delivery of humanitarian assistance and risk of environmental dimensions.

"Their proliferation is an insult to international legality but also an invitation to the international community to bring an appropriate and new support to the Somali authorities to help them address effectively the root causes of piracy," he said.

"The link between security, political and development must be now effectively realised."

Somalia has had no effective central government since fighting erupted in 1991, after then president Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled.

Numerous attempts to end the unrest have been frustrated by clan bickering and divisions, often resulting in cycles of internecine violence.

The pirates, mostly former coastguards and armed with grenade launchers and rifles, have grown bolder over the years. They attack ships sometimes hundreds of kilometres off the coast which they free after huge ransoms are paid.

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Some of the most daring ambushes were carried out last year, when the sea gangs attacked more than 130 merchant ships — a 200 percent increase from 2007, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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