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Pirates hijack vessel off Somali coast with 11 Indian sailors on board

A cargo ship with 11 Indian crew members on board has been hijacked by pirates off the Somalian coast.
India TV News Desk Dubai April 03, 2017 17:42 IST
India TV News Desk

A cargo ship with 11 Indian crew members on board has been hijacked by pirates off the Somalian coast.

"It is not a big ship but a dhow. It was hijacked and is now sailing towards the shore of Somalia," Director General of Shipping Malini Shankar said today.

The Associated Press reported that the vessel was targeted by the region's resurgent hijackers on Saturday when the vessel was passing through the narrow channel between Yemen’s Socotra island and the Somali coast.

The pirates are taking the vessel to the Eyl area of northern Somalia, Graeme Gibbon Brooks, CEO, maritime firm Dryad Maritime, said.

The small dhow, a traditional wooden ship common in regional waters, initially was heading from Dubai to Bosaso, Somalia, he said. 

Lt Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said sailors there are ‘aware of the reports and we are monitoring the situation’. The 5th Fleet oversees regional anti-piracy efforts. 

Piracy off Somalia's coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry. It has lessened in recent years after an international effort to patrol near the country, whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict. 

Since then, concerns about piracy off Africa's coast have largely shifted to the West Africa's Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. 

But frustrations have been rising among Somali fishermen, including former pirates, at what they say are foreign fishermen illegally fishing in local waters. 

In March, Somali pirates hijacked the Comoros-flagged oil tanker Aris 13, marking the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel since 2012. They later released the vessel and its Sri Lankan crew without conditions, Somali officials said at the time. 

Pirates in late March also seized a fishing trawler.

With AP Inputs