Somali pirates abduct 24 Filipino sailors: EU Naval Force

17:31, December 13, 2010      

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Another batch of 24 Filipino crewmen of a Liberian-owned bulk cargo vessel were seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean over the weekend, the European Union Naval Force said Monday.

The crewmen were taken hostage on the same day when 19 Filipino seamen of a Greek vessel, who were held captives for seven months off Somali waters, were freed.

"In the early hours of Dec. 11, the MV Renuar was pirated in the Indian Ocean, approximately 1,050 nautical miles east of the Somali coastal village of Eyl and a distance of 550 nautical miles from the coast of India," the European Union Naval Force said on its website.

Thus, the number of Filipino hostages in Somalia has gone up to 106.

The attack was launched from two attack skiffs, supported by a mother ship, with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel.

Since the attack, the pirates have confirmed that they have control of the ship which is now heading West towards the Somali coast, the EU said.

The Renuar was en route to Fujairah, United Arab Emirates from Port Louis, Mauritius when it was pirated.

According to the EU, the 24 all-Filipino crew attempted to evade the pirates for some time causing the pirates to make several determined attacks before finally boarding the vessel.

There are presently no communications with the ship and the condition of the crew is not known.

As a policy, the Philippine government does not negotiate nor pay ransom to kidnappers, but gives ship owners the free hand in negotiating for the release of abducted Filipino sailors. In the past, millions of dollars worth of ransom were believed to have been paid by shipowners to Somali pirates in exchange for the release of abducted sailors and hijacked vessels.

Filipino seafarers account for almost 30 percent of the global seaborne manpower or about 350,000 sailors, manning oil tankers, luxury liners, and passenger vessels worldwide, exposing them to piracy attacks.

Despite the risks, private shipping companies still see the seas surrounding the Horn of Africa as a cost-effective means for moving goods with as many as 20,000 ships traveling these waters annually.

Source: Xinhua

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