Indonesian troops prepare hostage rescue operation against Somali pirates

April 14th, 2011 - 7:14 pm ICT by BNO News  

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — Indonesia’s National Defense Forces (TNI) on Thursday announced that it is prepared to deploy security forces to rescue the 22 nationals captured by Somali pirates last month if negotiations remain unsuccessful.

TNI Commander Admiral Agus Suhartono told Antara news agency that if negotiations failed, TNI was ready to deploy forces, although he admitted paying a ransom to free the the sailors offered a better chance of freeing the hostages safely.

On March 16, Somali pirates hijacked the MV Sinar Kudus vessel, belonging to PT Samudra Indonesia and took 22 Indonesian crew members hostage. The vessel was on its way to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, with a cargo of of nickel from Pomalaa, Sulawesi.

On Wednesday, the Indonesian government had stated it would prioritize ransom negotiations since the use of force posed a greater risk to the lives of the hostages, despite lawmakers calling for the use of force to deal with the situation.

Initial reports indicated that the first ransom demand was worth about $9 million, as the Somali pirates declined an offer of $2.5 million. PT Samudra Indonesia then reportedly offered $6 million before reducing it again to $3.5 million. Currently, reports say Somali pirates are asking for a $3 million ransom.

In recent years, Somali pirates have hijacked hundreds of ships, taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom, but hostages are usually treated well and released in healthy conditions after a ransom is paid. Ships are patrolling the shipping lanes near Somalia in an effort to reduce hijackings, but the anti-piracy force has warned that attacks are likely to continue.

According to a recent study, maritime piracy cost the global economy up to $12 billion last year, with Somalia-based pirates responsible for 95 percent of the costs.

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