NAIROBI, Kenya ? World powers including the U.S., Russia and China are teaming up at sea to tackle the pirates plaguing Somalia's lawless coast, as a sharp increase in attacks has forced nations who may be rivals on land to make unlikely alliances.
Analysts say the shift from competition to cooperation is also helping to safeguard naval budgets in countries like the United States and Britain that are fighting land-based wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's remarkable you have in what is generally considered not to be the most strategically important corner of the Earth, you have the Chinese, the Russians, the Americans, the Indians, all working together against a common enemy," said piracy expert Roger Middleton from the London-based think tank Chatham House.
"They've been trained to fight each other, not small enemies," he said.
Pirates have launched increasingly bold attacks against vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden in hopes of capturing a ship and crew and collecting millions of dollars in ransom. They currently hold nearly 250 hostages from around the world, including a British couple taken last month. Three ships have been seized in the last week alone.
Lt. Nate Christensen of the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet said 25 ships from 14 nations are now patrolling the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.