Somali pirates seize container vessel

SOMALI pirates have seized a 20,000-tonne German container vessel in their latest attack on the Indian Ocean’s busy commercial shipping lanes, a regional maritime group said yesterday.

Heavily armed gangs from the lawless Horn of Africa nation hijacked dozens of vessels there and in the strategic Gulf of Aden last year, taking hundreds of sailors hostage and making off with millions of dollars in ransoms.

Foreign navies rushed warships to the area in response, reducing the number of successful attacks in recent months. However, there are still near-daily attempts.

Andrew Mwangura of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said the latest hijacking happened on Saturday 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,” Mwangura said.

The German foreign ministry said it was seeking “concrete evidence” that a German-flagged vessel had been captured.


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