(Adds quotes from pirates, analyst)
By Abdiqani Hassan
BOSASSO, Somalia, April 12 Somali pirates
threatened revenge on Sunday after two separate hostage-rescue
raids by foreign forces killed at least five comrades, raising
fears of future bloodshed on the high seas.
The latest raid by U.S. forces on Sunday that saved an
American hostage and one by France last week have upped the
stakes in shipping lanes off the anarchic Horn of Africa nation
where buccaneers have defied foreign naval patrols.
"The French and the Americans will regret starting this
killing. We do not kill, but take only ransom. We shall do
something to anyone we see as French or American from now,"
Hussein, a pirate, told Reuters by satellite phone.
"We cannot know how or whether our friends on the lifeboat
died, but this will not stop us from hijacking," he said.
Sea gangs generally treat their captives well, hoping to
fetch top dollar in ransoms.
The worst violence has been an occasional beating.
"We shall revenge," said another pirate, Aden, in Eyl
village, a pirate lair on Somalia's eastern coast.
Some fear the U.S. and French operations may make the
modern-day pirates more like their more fearsome forbearers.
"The pirates will know from now that anything can happen.
The French are doing this, the Americans are doing it. Things
will be more violent from now on," said Andrew Mwangura of the
Kenya-based East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.
"This is a big wake-up to the pirates. It raises the
Piracy is lucrative business in Somalia, where gangs have
earned millions of dollars in ransoms, splashing it on wives,
houses, cars and fancy goods.
After a wane in business early this year, pirates have
struck back. They presently hold more than a dozen vessels with
about 260 hostages, of whom about 100 are Filipino.
Eyl, Haradheere and other pirate havens along the Indian
Ocean coastline have come back to life with the windfall of
Somalia's anarchy -- whose 18 years of civil war have given
sea gangs assault rifles, grenade launchers and little central
control -- has long been ignored by world powers.
The saga over the capture of cargo ship captain Richard
Phillips has thrown international attention on the long-running
piracy phenomenon that has hiked up insurance costs on strategic
waterways where warships now patrol.
"Killing three out of thousands of pirates will only
escalate piracy," said Sheikh Abdullahi Sheikh Abu Yusuf,
spokesman of the moderate Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca.
(Additional reporting by Andrew Cawthorne in Nairobi and Abdi
Sheikh and Abdi Guled in Mogadishu; Writing by Jack Kimball;
Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Jon Boyle)