Pirates seize Indian dhow off Somalia
Armed pirates in speedboats have hijacked an Indian dhow with 13 crew members off the northern coast of Somalia, a maritime official said Tuesday.
The cargo-laden vessel was en route to Somalia from Asia when it was seized over the weekend, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, reproted CNN.
The bureau only received a distress report from a third party on Monday and is still verifying the time and date of the attack, he said. No further details were immediately available.
The attack comes despite increased international cooperation to crack down on pirates in the African waters.
"It shows that the momentum is still there, the attacks are still continuing in this key shipping route," Choong said, adding that the bureau has issued a warning for ships to maintain a strict watch to thwart the bandits.
The hijacking pushed the number of attacks this year in the African waters to 74. A total of 30 ships have been hijacked, and 10 remain in the hands of pirates along with nearly 200 crew members, Choong said.
Momentum has been growing for coordinated international action following the September 25 hijacking of the Ukrainian ship MV Faina, which was carrying tanks and other heavy weaponry.
NATO has sent warships to the area to help U.S. navy vessels already patrolling the region. India also announced it will send warships to the area, and several European countries have said they would launch an anti-piracy patrol.
Some naval commanders are also suggesting shipping companies hire private security firms to counter possible hijackings.
Somalia, which has not had a functioning government since 1991, has been impoverished by decades of conflict, and piracy by Somali gangs has emerged as a lucrative racket that brings in millions of dollars in ransoms.