London, Feb 3 (ANI): The commander of the European Union naval force has said that Somali pirates have started using aggressive new tactics, including torture on their captives.
Captured sailors now face being thrown overboard or used as human shields, locked in freezers or having plastic ties put on their genitals in the mounting battle between international forces and Somali pirates.
"There have been regular manifestations of systematic torture. If warships approached a pirated ship too closely, the pirates would drag hostages on deck and beat them until the warship went away," said Royal Marines Commandant General Buster Howes.
The new developments come after a recent hardening in tactics used against pirates. South Korean forces last month killed eight Somalis and captured five more while storming a hijacked cargo ship, releasing all the hostages, The Independent reports.
Over the past three years an unprecedented multinational naval force has been assembled in the waters from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean aimed at protecting commercial shipping routes.
Despite this, Somali pirate gangs, using ramshackle equipment and basic skiffs, have been able to hijack vastly larger craft including oil-laden supertankers.
The EU commander said new tactics were being used to bypass ships' defences including attacks on so-called safe rooms on board where the crew can lock themselves away.
These are being attacked with grenades and rocket launchers. Last week a three-day siege of crewmembers on the German-flagged MV Beluga Nomination ended with the attackers getting in and executing one of the sailors, The Independent reports. (ANI)