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29 Dec 2010 16:18
Two ships foiled piracy attacks at the farthest point yet known down the East African coast off central Mozambique on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, an EU Naval Force spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Pirates carried out separate attacks just 20 nautical miles apart on the oil tanker NS Africa, registered in Liberia, and the Panamanian bulk carrier Majestic, just north of Mozambique’s central port city Beira, said Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) spokesperson Wing Commander Paddy O’Kennedy.
“Those vessels were attacked on the 24th and 25th respectively,” he said.
“They were attacked 19 degrees south [of the equator]. That is well south of the normal areas we work.”
Two small boats carrying six alleged attackers were involved in both incidents, said O’Kennedy.
“We believe they were attacked by the same pirate action group.”
Moving away from Somalia
The NS Africa evaded the pirates with manoeuvres, while the Majestic returned fire and flares when the pirates fired shots at the bulk carrier.
Neither of the ships were registered with authorities that are managing anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, which delayed the reports of the attacks, said O’Kennedy.
The two ships’ itineraries are unknown, but the NS Africa is registered to enter the Gulf of Aden in January, suggesting a northward journey, said O’Kennedy.
The latest attacks suggest that international anti-piracy efforts have forced pirates to move further away from Somalia.
The southernmost successful pirate attack was on the MV Panama on December 10, approximately 80 nautical miles east of the Tanzanian and Mozambican border.
One of the poorest countries in the world, Mozambique does not have a large enough navy to patrol Africa’s second longest coastline, which stretches for 2 470km.
Somali pirates currently hold 25 vessels and 587 people hostage, according to the EU task force.
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