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Piratas declare huntin seazon on Gringos!
Backlash Fear After US Navy Shoots Pirates
9 hours 19 mins ago
SkyNews Sky News
The US Navy's dramatic rescue of an American sea captain has ushered in a new era of "guerilla warfare" on the open seas, a piracy expert has told Sky News Online.
Snipers hidden in the rear of US warship the USS Bainbridge shot dead three of the four pirates holding Captain Richard Phillips in a lifeboat off the Horn of Africa.
Admiral William Gortney revealed it only took the Navy SEALs three shots to kill the captors after they were spotted "with their heads and shoulders exposed".
Now Somali pirate chief Abdi Garad has vowed to hunt down all Americans sailing in the Gulf of Aden in revenge for the "murders".
"The American liars have killed our friends after they agreed to free the hostage without ransom," he told Al Jazeera by phone from Eyl, a pirate base on Somalia's eastern coast.
"But I tell you that this matter will lead to retaliation and we will hunt down particularly American citizens travelling our waters."
Experts point out that so far Somali pirates have not killed a single captive - but this may now change and lead them to use more brutal tactics in the pursuit of ransom money.
It has also raised fears for the 230 foreign sailors still held hostage in more than a dozen ships anchored off the coast of Somalia.
"This has now changed everything, what we are now dealing with is maritime guerilla warfare," maritime security expert Nick Davis told Sky News Online.
"Your average Caucasian white guy does not want to be operating in the Indian Ocean - because his card is now marked.
"I would not want to be on an American-flagged ship in the Indian Ocean at the moment, that's for sure."
He believes the vowed revenge attacks could also put European crew at risk.
It will also not have been helped by French navy commandos storming a pirate-held boat on Friday, killing two pirates and one French hostage, and freeing four French citizens.
"Your average Somali pirate might just be 18 years old, and is likely to be uneducated. All he'll see is a white guy - he's not going to know if he's English or American," he added.
"This will send absolute shockwaves through the merchant shipping industry."
He said when markets reopen tomorrow, shipping companies will be looking to mitigate the risks of travelling through areas known for pirate attacks.
And this might include deregistering from US shipping operators, and sailing under the flag of countries like Panama, the Philippines, or Greece.
But he said that this process is highly bureaucratic and can take months.
President Obama gave the order for the US Navy to "take decisive action" if Captain Phillips was at risk, and has vowed to crack down on piracy.
But Mr Davis said despite the rhetoric, in reality there is "absolutely nothing" the US military can do.
"There are no amount of warships in the world that can solve this problem," he stressed.
He points out that the pirates have satellite phones, keep in close contact with each other, and operate in six million square kilometres of ocean.
They also use speedboats capable of travelling at 35mph, compared to the average merchant ship's speed of 10-15mph, and carry enough fuel to operate for 12 hours.
Many also have a mother ship for refuelling - meaning they can operate in deep water for three or four days at a time.
Hours after the rescue, mortar shells were fired at Mogadishu's airport as US congressman Donald Payne was leaving Somalia, but there were no casualties.