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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Somali pirates hijack Indonesian ship

Somali pirates have hijacked an Indonesian-flagged ship with 20 crew onboard in the Gulf of Aden, the European Union anti-piracy mission says.

The Indonesian ship was attacked by Somali pirates in waters approximately 320 nautical miles northeast of the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean, a Press TV correspondent reports.

“Details of the attack are not known at this time but initial reports from the crew stated that 30 to 50 pirates had boarded and taken control of the vessel,” the European Union's anti-piracy task force said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Somali pirates released a Panamanian-flagged vessel with 30 crews which they had seized more than four months ago in the Gulf of Aden.

Reports said a ransom of USD 2 million has been paid for the release of the crew of the Panamanian-flagged ship.

The waters off the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia are considered the world's most dangerous in terms of persistent piracy attempts.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels traveling from Asia to Europe and the Americas.

However, attacks by the heavily armed Somali pirates in speedboats have prompted some of the world's largest shipping firms to switch routes from the Suez Canal and send cargo vessels around southern Africa, causing a hike in shipping costs.

In November, a UN report said that the number of successful hijackings by Somali pirates has climbed in 2010, becoming more violent and expanding in terms of the zone of attacks.

There are currently 27 vessels and 600 crew members held by Somali pirates, according to the European Union naval force mission.

Somalia, located in the strategic Horn of Africa, does not have a functional government, and the Transitional Federal Government does not have much control beyond the capital city Mogadishu.

Source: PressTV

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