Somali pirates hijack German operated chemical tanker

12:55, May 09, 2010      

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Somali pirates have hijacked a German operated chemical tanker with 22 crew members aboard, about 120 miles south of Salalah, Oman, EU Naval Force confirmed on Saturday.

Naval Force spokesman John Harbour said the Marshal Island flagged, German owned, chemical tanker the Marida Marguerite, of 13,000 tonnes was seized on Saturday with 19 Indians, 1 Ukrainian and two Bangladeshis on board. "The ship was approached by a pirate skiff firing automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades and the crew reported that they saw the pirates climbing onboard," said Harbour. "The ship has a crew of 22 and it is believed that all are well, " he said.

He said a passing merchant ship tried to make contact by VHF radio but received a response from the bridge of the hijacked vessel to "go away".

The latest seizure came hours after Somali pirates had hijacked a Taiwan fishing boat off the Horn of Africa nation coast with 26 crew members.

Andrew Mwangura, East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said the ship's owner lost contact with Tai Yuan 227 two days ago north of Seychelles as it headed for the Maldives.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has confirmed the hijack.

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast have continued despite the presence of several warships, deployed by navies of the NATO, the European Union, Russia, China, South Korea and India, in the region to protect cargo and cruise ships against piracy.

Kenya's proximity to Somalia prompted insurance companies to hike up their premiums for ships traveling to Kenyan ports to mitigate the increased insecurity.

This led shipping companies to take the longer route around the Cape of Good Hope while traveling to the Kenyan ports, with cost of doing business on the Kenyan coast going up by over 40 percent. To date more than 100 suspects have been transferred to Kenya by the Western warships patrolling the Indian Ocean to combat piracy.

It is only Kenya and the Seychelles in the region that have agreed to take in suspects for prosecution, but both have recently complained about the burden of trying and jailing pirates in their countries.

Source: Xinhua


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