UAE denies reports on Somali pirates' abduction of vessel
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denied media reports saying Somali pirates have hijacked a UAE- flagged ship, the state-run news agency WAM reported Wednesday.
The reports by some media about the abduction "are deviating from the truth," Mohammed Sultan Al Suwaidi, director of the Foreign Ministry's Arab Affairs Department, was quoted as saying, Xinhua reported.
He said the vessel, owned by a Somali trader, was carrying foodstuff when leaving the northeast port of Ajman, adding that it was flying the Panamanian flag.
Earlier this week, Western media reported that Somali pirates have seized a UAE-flagged cargo ship loaded with weapons bound for the Horn of Africa nation in contravention of a UN arms embargo.
On Tuesday, a spokesman for Somali police forces said the reports were unfounded and baseless and accused what he described as "uninformed foreign elements" of propagating the information.
Somali pirates have recently intensified their activities along the India Ocean and extended their reach far into the high seas between Somalia and as far as off the Indian sub-continent, the longest distance so far.
The pirate gangs are holding several ships with hundreds of crew on board for whom they demand ransom for their release.