A supertanker hijacking helped boost the price of oil early this week.
Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering/Reuters
Johannesburg, South Africa
By hijacking a Saudi oil tanker – the largest ship ever taken – Somali pirates this week may have guaranteed their biggest ever haul of ransom.
The capture of the Sirius Star, which can carry more than one-fourth of Saudi Arabia's daily oil output, helped send prices above $58 a barrel. And the fact that it was nabbed 450 miles off Kenya's coast is a sign of growing sophistication and reach by the pirates, who have tended to stay closer to the Gulf of Aden, a pinch point for sea traffic routed through the Suez Canal.
The news also raises concern from some Western analysts that the pirates' spoils could help fund a growing Islamist insurgency in Somalia, although there is little evidence of that so far.
"What this attack represents is a fundamental shift in the pirates' ability to carry out attacks," said Lt.
Somali pirates also hijacked a 26,000-ton Iranian cargo carrier on Tuesday, according to the US Navy.
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