Hijackings by Somali pirates have significantly reduced in the past couple of years because many ships now carry armed guards and there is an international naval armada that carries out onshore raids.
In 2010, pirates seized 47 vessels, so far this year they have taken five, a decrease that could signify that the scourge is ending, though experts say it is too early to declare victory.
The overwhelming majority of hostages have been sailors on merchant ships, though European families also have been kidnapped from their yachts while traveling in the dangerous Indian Ocean coastal waters.
Four Americans were killed in February 2011, when the pirates who boarded their ship apparently became trigger-happy because of nearby U.S. warships.
Gaza militants fire rocket at Israel
JERUSALEM — Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket into southern Israel on Sunday for the first time since an Egypt-mediated cease-fire Nov. 21, army radio and other media reported.
The reports said it fell on open ground and caused no injuries, but an Israeli military spokesman denied that a rocket had hit. “No rocket fell in Israeli territory,” he said without elaborating.
Israel and the militant Islamist group Hamas, which rules Gaza, fought an eight-day war last month in which 177 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed before the truce took effect.
On Friday, Israeli troops shot and wounded five Palestinians near the Gaza border fence east of Jabalia, in the north of the coastal strip, Palestinian medical sources said.
The army said soldiers opened fire when a group of men moved into a no-go zone near the fence.
Islamists destroy Timbuktu mausoleums
BAMAKO — A tourism official said Sunday that Islamist extremists destroyed four mausoleums in Timbuktu.
The director of Mali’s Timbuktu tourism office, Sane Chirfi, said that Ansar Dine rebels linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb tore down the mausoleums, which were historic but not included on the U.N. list of World Heritage sites.View Entire Story
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