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Piracy, Mortar Attack Evidence of Ongoing Chaos in Somalia

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Six mortar shells were fired toward the airport in the Somali capital of Mogadishu as a plane carrying a U.S. congressman took off, an airport employee at the control tower said.

The killing of the three pirates by the U.S. military could worsen the problem, military officials said. Statements made Monday by people who identified themselves as pirates seemed to bolster that view. It is an outcome that shipping companies have sought to avoid.

On Monday, a pirate in the Somali coastal town of Eyl who identified himself as Farah told Reuters that "America has become our new enemy."

"From now on, if we capture foreign ships and their respective countries try to attack us, we will kill" the hostages, Jamac Habeb, 30, told the Associated Press from Eyl, one of Somalia's piracy hubs. Habeb called U.S. forces "our No. 1 enemy."

Abdullahi Lami, one of the pirates holding a Greek ship anchored in the Somali town of Gaan, told AP that "every country will be treated the way it treats us. In the future, America will be the one mourning and crying. . . . We will retaliate the killings of our men."

Foreign governments have sent a flotilla of naval ships to the busy Gulf of Aden in an effort to stanch the attacks, but pirates have simply moved their operations south and farther out to sea, often using captured fishing vessels called mother ships to launch attacks.

The closest naval ship was 300 nautical miles away when the Maersk Alabama was attacked Wednesday.

"We simply do not have enough resources to cover all of those areas," said Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of the 5th Fleet.

Obama had issued a standing order that the military was to act if the captain's life was in immediate jeopardy, Gortney said.

Phillips was whisked to the Bainbridge after the rescue. He showered and changed into clean clothes, Gortney said, adding that the captain is "in good health."

Phillips spoke to his wife in Vermont, and soon the news was being announced inside his ship, the Maersk Alabama, which docked here Saturday night. Sailors came out on deck and whooped for joy, waving a U.S. flag, sounding the ship's horn three times and firing two flares across the starry night sky.

"He's one of the bravest men I ever met," one of the crew members said of Phillips, who boarded the lifeboat with the pirates to get them to leave after the crew had regained control of the ship. "He's a national hero."

The pirates had apparently been tracking the Maersk Alabama for days and boarded it Wednesday, tossing ropes with grappling hooks over the side. The details of what happened next are sketchy, but after a five-hour ordeal in which some crew members forced one pirate into the engine room and tied him up, the crew persuaded the pirates to leave the ship using its lifeboat.


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