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Piracy News & Commentary

Hungry Young Fools With Guns

Five Somali pirates were captured after mistakenly attacking a French warship, the Somme, with small arms at night, roughly 270 nautical miles offshore. Pirates have been ranging farther and farther to sea in the search for prey, and an increase in night attacks has been predicted. Even so, it takes more than daring to make a successful pirate in the face of resistance, and the ability to tell prey from predator is a mandatory skill. In the seventeenth and early eighteenth century, a mistake such as this was referred to as "catching a Tartar." This is not the first time Somali pirates have mistakenly attacked a warship--in May of this year pirates inadvertently attacked a French frigate and were captured--and, given their marginal level of training and professionalism, likely will not be the last.
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