Inside the Pirate Lair

After a quiet start to the year, the Somali pirates are back in a big way hijacking six ships in five days. An American destroyer is currently alongside the Maersk Alabama trying to help secure the release of the ship’s captain, who is still being held by pirates in a lifeboat.

Some 15 warships (sometimes as many as 20) in the Gulf of Aden have failed to prevent the pirates plundering the seas. They have simply switched tactics. Maritime officials in Kenya say they are now attacking further afield and in synchronised waves so as to stretch the defences. They have also become more agressive this year as they tackle crews prepared to use fire hoses or ships decked with barbed wire to keep the gangsters at bay.

The rewards on offer are tempting. My friend Sahal Abdulle travelled bravely to the pirate lair of Hobyo to see how multimiliion dollar ransoms are transforming sleepy fishing communities

For hundreds of years the harbour village of Hobyo was famous for one thing: the sharks caught in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, which would be dried and shipped to Kenya.

Generations of children followed their fathers to sea and a lucrative career in fishing. They still want to go to sea. Only now they dream of being pirates. “I want be a pirate, they have cool cars and lots of money,” said a boy, 13, staring out to sea.