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Monday, April 06, 2009

Somali Pirates: Busy Weekend

A report of a German container vessel being captured off the east coast of Somalia here:
Somali pirates have seized a 20,000-tonne German container vessel in their latest attack on commercial shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, a regional maritime group said today.

Heavily armed gangs from the lawless Horn of Africa nation hijacked dozens of vessels there and in the busy Gulf of Aden last year, earning themselves million of dollars in ransoms.

Foreign navies rushed warships to the area in response, causing the number of successful attacks to fall in recent months. But there are still near daily attempts to seize ships.

Andrew Mwangura of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme said the latest hijacking took place on Saturday about 400 nautical miles off the southern Somali port of Kismayu, between the Seychelles and Kenya.

"We believe the German ship has 24 crew on board. We're trying to establish their identities and the name of the vessel," Mr Mwangura told Reuters by telephone.
This follows a report of an unsuccessful attack on an Israeli ship in the Gulf of Aden here:
An Israeli official says pirates attacked an Israeli-owned ship near the Gulf of Aden, where international shipping lanes have been plagued by Somali maritime marauders.

The director of the Israeli shipping company Zim says pirates fired shots and attempted to take over one of the company's vessels Saturday. Rafi Danieli says the pirates failed to board because of barbed wire the company had installed around the deck. Danieli told Israel Radio on Sunday that the company alerted the Israeli Foreign Ministry and NATO, which dispatched a British aircraft that drove the pirates off. Danieli said this was the first pirate attack against an Israeli vessel.

Israel Radio identified the ship as the Africa Star.
A late report has pirates grabbing a Yemeni tugboat as set out here:
Somali pirates hijacked a Yemeni tugboat in the Indian Ocean and held its seven-member crew hostage on Sunday, Yemen's Interior Ministry reported.

Armed pirates took over the al-Ghaith boat with seven Yemeni sailors on board and took it to an unknown destination, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

No further details were immediately available.
There are further reports of the thwarting of pirate attacks by anti-piracy coalition vessels in the area, as set out here:
HMCS Winnipeg is only four days into its new NATO mission to deter a rash of piracy along shipping channels in the area, and already two boatloads of civilians are grateful for its presence.

On Saturday morning, as part of Operation Allied Protector, the warship received a distress call from the Pacific Opal. The tanker captain said the ship was being tailed by three unknown skiffs – the typical practice of pirates, many of whom are former Somali fishermen. HMCS Winnipeg sent its Sea King helicopter to assess the situation, and found the skiffs closing in on the tanker, which was headed west in the Gulf of Aden to the Suez Canal.

The helicopter hovered above the boats and lowered its stop sign – written in Somali and measuring three metres by one metre – beside its machine gun. The boats came to an immediate halt, and stayed there until the Pacific Opal was a safe distance away.

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