Attack on US congressman

The pirates of Somalia, who shot dead a French yachtsman last week, have stepped up their attacks on land. Mortars were fired at a US congressman who had flown into the war-torn country to discuss the piracy problem with the Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Donald Payne’s plane was fired at after he left the Somali capital. Mogadishu, following the first visit by a US politician since 1994.

It was a ‘revenge’ attack for the successful freeing of the captain of the American-flagged container ship, Maersk Alabama, Richard Phillips, by US Navy Seals who shot dead three pirates using night-vision goggles, when their captive – who was being held in a lifeboat – went to relieve himself over the side.

The escalation of violence has increased fears for the safety of 230 foreign sailors still held hostage in a dozen ships off the Somali coast.