Pirates Seize British Cargo Ship Off Somali Coast
(RTTNews) - Pirates have seized a British-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, making it the fourth vessel to be hijacked by pirates off the Somali coast in a week’s time, said officials on Saturday.
The UK-flagged Asian Glory was taken 620 miles off the Somali coast on Friday, when it was on its way to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia from Singapore with a cargo of cars on board. It is understood that none of the 25-member crew on board the hijacked vessel are UK nationals.
The hijacked vessel’s owners, London-based Zodiac Maritime Agencies, said Saturday that the ship’s crew consisted of Ukrainians, Romanians and Indians, as well as eight Bulgarians. Asian Glory became the second ship owned by Zodiac Maritime Agencies to be seized by Somali pirates in the week.
Also on Friday, Somali pirates seized Singaporean-flagged chemical tanker M/V Pramoni in the Gulf of Aden. The 20,000-ton tanker has a crew of 24 on board, and is owned by Singapore-based GBLT Ship Management company. It was seized while heading to Kandla, India.
Earlier in the week, pirates had seized chemical tanker St. James Park, another vessel owned by Zodiac Maritime Agencies, in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. That ship has a 26-member crew of different nationalities, and is currently anchored off the Somali coast, where negotiations for its release are expected to begin shortly.
Further, pirates also hijacked Panamanian-flagged Greek-owned carrier Navios Apollon off the southern coast of Somalia on Monday. It has a 19-member crew, and was hijacked while carrying fertilizer from the U.S. to India.
Somalia has been without a functioning government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre’s government in 1991. Currently, a weak UN-backed interim government under President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is trying to enforce its authority in the country, most of which is controlled by various Islamist insurgent groups.
The Somali coast, particularity the Gulf of Aden, has been affected by piracy in the recent years. More than 160 pirate attacks have been reported in the waters off Somalia from January to September this year. The Somali pirates have managed to hijack at least 34 vessels, and are currently holding some 10 ships and 200 hostages. Generally, the crew and the vessels are returned unharmed on receiving the demanded ransom.
The 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 in the region.
The UN Security Council has approved four resolutions since June to promote international efforts in fighting the escalating piracy problem off the coast of Somalia, and has authorized countries engaged in anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast to conduct land and air attacks on Somali pirates after obtaining prior permission from the Somali government.
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