Somali pirates have hijacked an Indian commercial ship with 11 crew members on board off the coast of Somalia, a regional maritime official confirmed on Monday.
John Steed, the regional manager of Oceans Beyond Piracy, a non-government organization, said the Indian-flagged vessel was heading to Somalia shores from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates at the time of hijack..
“We have received information about the hijack of Indian vessel with 11 crew members on board. All crew are Indians and were hijacked off the coast of Somalia on April 1,” Steed told Xinhua by telephone.
There were no details of the crew or destination but some reports said that attack happened some 50 km south of the port town of Hobyo.
The latest hijacked comes two weeks after the pirates hijacked oil tanker en route to Mogadishu but released the boat reportedly without conditions. No ransom demand has been put forward so far.
Somali pirates tend to be well-armed with automatic weapons and Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.
Since Somali piracy is largely a hijack-for-ransom business, it relies heavily on onshore support for infrastructure that provides food, water, fuel and the leafy narcotic khat to the militiamen who guard the hijacked ships throughout the ransom negotiation process.
The Horn of Africa has itself also suffered considerably from the impact of piracy.