BEIJING, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Attacks by pirates off
the coast of Somalia have fiercely intensified, with five vessels reportedly
hijacked in the past week, including Saudi-owned supertanker Sirius Star, the
largest vessel ever seized at sea.
On Wednesday, a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship was confirmed to have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden near the coast of Yemen.
Saudi-owned crude oil supertanker Sirius Star is seen during its naming ceremony in South Korea in this undated handout picture released on June 18, 2008 and obtained by Reuters on Nov. 18, 2008. . (Xinhua/Reuters Photo) Photo Gallery>>>
Andrew Mwangura, the East African Coordinator of the
Seafarer Assistance Program, said the Delight, operated by an Iranian company
and loaded with 26,000 tons of wheat, was bound for the Iranian port of Bandar
Abbas when it was hijacked.
He said the fate of the crew or its cargo was not
known, adding the ship was likely sailing toward an anchorage site off the
The Sirius Star, with a capacity of 2 million barrels
of crude oil, was hijacked by Somali pirates Saturday, some 450 miles (725
kilometers) off the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
The supertanker, along with its international crew of
25, has dropped anchor off the Somali port of Harardhere, where a Ukrainian ship
loaded with weapons is also being held since being captured in September,
regional authorities told Xinhua.
The hijacking of the supertanker was shocking because
it highlighted the vulnerability of even very large ships and pointed to
widening ambitions and capabilities among ransom-hungry pirates.
Also over the weekend, a Japanese cargo ship carrying
23 crew members, among them five Koreans and 18 Filipinos, was confirmed
hijacked by armed gunmen off the coast of Somalia.
On Thursday, a Chinese fishing vessel was hijacked by
pirates armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons off the coast of
Kenya and is being held off the southern Somali port city of Kismanyu.
The 24 crew aboard the abducted ship owned by the
Tianjin Ocean Fishing Company include 16 Chinese, among them one from China's
Taiwan province, one Japanese, three Filipinos and four Vietnamese.
It is the first time that incidents of piracy,
usually endemic off the northern and northeastern Somali coast, were reported
off the southern coast of the country.
The attack came hours after a Russian-operated cargo
ship off the coast of Somalia luckily escaped pirates who had attacked it with
grenade launchers and machine guns.
Last Wednesday, a Turkish ship, with 14 crew and
4,500 tons of unspecified chemicals, was also reported to have been hijacked by
pirates off the coast of Yemen. It was the second hijacking of a Turkish ship
within the past month.
Pirates have been causing havoc in one of the world's
most dangerous waters of the Somali coast, which connects Europe to Asia and the
Middle East. They have taken millions of dollars in ransom, raised insurance
costs and threatened humanitarian supplies.
The hijackings come just as international communities
intensified their efforts to combat piracy off Somalia.
The European Union (EU) has recently agreed to deploy
an air and naval force off the coast of Somalia to guard sea lanes against
piracy. The EU's naval mission, to be in place by next month, is expected to
protect vulnerable vessels off the Somali coast and help ensure the delivery of
Ten EU nations have said they will contribute to the
EU operation, which is expected to involve four to six ships at any given time,
as well as several maritime surveillance aircraft. It will have an initial
Besides, NATO has already sent a fleet to protect
food shipments to Somalia.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government also plans to
combat piracy in the area by sending a 4,500-ton destroyer loaded with SM-2
Block IIIA missiles and other cutting-edge weaponry, as well as the Navy's
Saudi-owned crude oil supertanker
"Sirius Star" is seen in this photograph taken in Rotterdam on October 17,
2008. Pirates who hijacked the Sirius Star off the east coast of Africa
are taking the vessel towards a Somali port, the U.S. Navy said on Nov.
17, 2008. Picture taken October 17, 2008. The hijacked Saudi-owned
supertanker has anchored off the coast of northeastern Somalia.
(Xinhua/Reuters Photo) Photo
MOGADISHU, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The hijacked Saudi-owned supertanker has anchored
off the coast of northeastern Somalia while eight pirates escaped from prison in
the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland, officials said Tuesday.
The Sirius Star, capable of carrying 2 million barrels of
crude oil, along with its international crew of 25, was hijacked over the
weekend by Somali pirates 450 miles off the coast of the Kenyan port town of
Mombasa and has since been heading towards the Somali port town of Harard here
in Puntland. Full story
NAIROBI, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Armed gunmen have
hijacked a cargo ship carrying 23 crew off the coast of Somalia, a regional
maritime official confirmed here Sunday.
Andrew Mwangurea, the coordinator of the East Africa
Seafarers Association, said the Japanese freighter, whose crewmen include five
South Koreans, was hijacked by an armed group in waters off Somalia late on
Saturday. Full Story
NAIROBI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A group of unidentified
persons armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons attacked a Chinese
fishing boat off the coast of Kenya Thursday night, a regional maritime official
said on Friday.
Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African
Seafarers' Association (SAP) said the pirates hijacked the Chinese fishing boat
with 24 crew members and demanded it sail toward the coastal area off Somalia.
PARIS, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) --
The European Union's anti-piracy operation to fight against Somali piracy will
begin on December 8,French Defense Minister Herve Morin said Wednesday.
"We proposed to our European partners to take up this
mission," said Morin. At the beginning of December, five or six warships will
begin patrolling in the Gulf of Aden where pirates infest. Full story
MOGADISHU, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- The
Islamist rebels in control of the southern port city of Kismayu Wednesday
pledged they will fight piracy off the coast of the southern Somali regions
where a Chinese fishing vessel was hijacked this week.
The Islamist Al-Shabaab group's media chief, Sheik Hassan
YakubAli, said that the group will secure the sea off the southern part of the
country saying they will form a task force to protect shipsheading to the
area. Full story