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15 Oct 2009 13:36
Somali pirates on Thursday seized a Singapore-flagged container ship in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles, maritime sources told Agence France-Presse.
“The Singapore flagged and owned boxship Kota Wajar was seized around 300 nautical miles north the Seychelles,” said Andrew Mwangura, who heads the Kenyan chapter of East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.
Other maritime sources in the region confirmed the information.
A maritime source in the area, who did not wish to be identified, said that the attack took place early on Thursday, 24 nautical miles from the site of recent attacks on French tuna-fishing boats.
He also said that the attack was only 180 nautical miles from the Seychelles, inside the archipelago’s exclusive economic zone.
The maritime security centre of the European Union, which has an anti-piracy naval force patrolling waters affected by Somali piracy, also confirmed the hijacking.
“During the early morning of October 15 2009 a Singapore-flagged container ship Kota Wajar was hijacked in the Indian Ocean by pirates about 300 nautical miles north of the Seychelles,” a statement said.
“An [European Union] Navfor maritime patrol aircraft was tasked to investigate the situation,” it said, without providing further details.
The latest hijacking brings to at least six the number of vessels in the hands of Somali pirates. The others include a Spanish trawler, a Taiwanese fishing vessel and Ukrainian, German and Turkish freighters.
According to non-governmental observers Ecoterra International, at least 163 attacks have been carried out by Somali pirates since the start of 2009 alone, 47 of them successful hijackings.
A flotilla of foreign warships has since last year been patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest maritime trade routes on the globe, prompting pirates to hunt down their prey far out in the Indian Ocean.
Experts had warned in recent days that dropping winds near the Seychelles had attracted pirates, who generally launch attacks from so-called “mother ships” with tiny skiffs.—AFP
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