WASHINGTON – US-flagged vessels operating in pirate-cruised waters off Somalia's coast should be required to carry armed security teams, Democratic US Senator Dianne Feinstein said Monday.
"I believe that any US-flag shipping vessel operating in the Gulf of Aden or the Straits of Malacca - or in any other high piracy zone - should be required to have armed security teams aboard," said Feinstein.
Feinstein wrote to President Barack Obama last week urging him to deploy armed teams aboard such ships "until the international community can implement appropriate measures to stop the growing threat of piracy in the area."
In a statement on Monday, the California senator said she had heard enough "rhetoric" on how "a political solution to the ongoing chaos within Somalia" was needed to blunt the threat from piracy.
Feinstein noted that some pirates have threatened to target US-flagged ships after US forces rescue the abducted captain of one US cargo ship, the Maersk Alabama, and shot dead three of his captors.
"I believe we must take strong, decisive action to make sure the crews on these ships are protected from the menace of piracy," she said.
Feinstein said that, in 2008, pirates attacked over 90 commercial ships, hijacked 40 of them, and exacted an estimated 120 million dollars in ransom.
In her letter to Obama, dated April 14, Feinstein warned the world's navies were not enough to protect every shipping vessel that transits through the busy shipping lanes off Somalia's coast.
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