According to MANA, The rise in piracy attacks has at least partially been driven by famine and drought in the region, the top U.S. military commander overseeing troops in Africa said during Mattis' visit as part of a week-long trip to the Middle East and Africa.
Piracy has made a worrisome return to the waters off Somalia after a five-year hiatus, U.S. defense officials said, prompting commercial shippers, the military and others to revisit the issue.
The sudden string of attacks by Somali pirates comes after years without a reported incident. Attacks peaked with 237 in 2011 but then declined steeply after ship owners improved security measures and international naval forces stepped up patrols.
According to the U.N. World Food Programme more than 20 million people from Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan are at risk of dying from starvation within the next six months.
The U.S. base, which has about 4,000 personnel, is located just miles from a Chinese one, still under construction, which has caused concern to some U.S. officials.