A Thai ship with 16 crew members and an Iranian cargo vessel with a crew of 25 were hijacked Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden, where Somalia-based pirates appear to be attacking ships at will, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Malaysia.
"It's getting out of control," Choong said.
The incidents raised to eight the number of ships hijacked this week alone, he said. Since the beginning of the year 39 ships have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, out of 95 attacked.
"There is no firm deterrent, that's why the pirate attacks are continuing," Choong said. "The criminal activities are flourishing because the risks are low and the rewards are extremely high."
The pirates used to mainly roam the waters off the Somali coast, but now they have spread in every direction and are targeting ships further at sea, according to Choong.
He said 17 vessels remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 300 crew members, including a Ukrainian ship loaded with weapons and a Saudi Arabian supertanker carrying $100 million in crude.
A multicoalition naval force has increased patrols in the region, and scored a success Tuesday when an Indian warship destroyed a suspected pirate ship that had opened fire off the coast of Oman.
The Indian navy said the pirates fired on the INS Tabar after the officers asked it to stop to be searched. Indian forces fired back, destroying the ship, and then chased one of the speed boats, which was later found abandoned. The other escaped, according to a navy statement.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Reported as Somali pirates hijack Thai fishing boat, 16 crew. There are now 17 vessels being hled by Somali pirates: