Pesky pirates blazing away at cargo ships - as set out here:
Pirates fired grenade launchers and machine guns at a cargo ship in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Somalia, sparking concerns that key shipping routes are threatened, a Malaysia-based maritime watchdog said Tuesday.
The Qatar-flagged cargo ship, Ibn Younus, managed to escape during an hour-long chase as it headed from Durban in South Africa to Jebel Ali in Dubai after it was attacked Monday, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.
Three men in a speed boat, armed with machine guns and grenade launchers, approached the ship and ordered it to stop, he said.
"They started firing with machine guns toward the bridge of the ship. The emergency alarm was raised and the ship took measures to prevent the pirates from boarding," Choong told The Associated Press.
"The pirates then opened fire with the grenade launcher and successfully hit the crew's cabins, causing severe damage," he said.
The attack — Somalia's seventh at sea so far this year_ occurred 180 nautical miles off the coast, compared to previous raids that took place close to the shoreline, Choong said.
"We are concerned about this latest attack which happened so far off the coast of Somalia. It appears the old warlords are coming back. This trend is dangerous because it could disrupt shipping routes," Choong said.
Somalia lies close to crucial shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean, where valuable cargo and carriers must pass.