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calendar   Monday - April 06, 2009

Somali pirates hijack British-owned cargo ship.

Well here we go again troops.


Somali pirates hijack British-owned cargo ship

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 2:40 PM on 06th April 2009

A 32,000-tonne British-owned cargo ship was seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden today.

The 183m-long Malaspina Castle, which was built in 1981, is Italian-operated and flies a Panamanian flag.

The attack took place despite a stepping up of naval patrols in the area following a spate of pirate incidents in recent weeks.

The EU’s Horn of Africa maritime security centre, based in Northwood, north west London, said: ‘A 32,000 tonne UK-owned and Italian-operated bulk carrier was hijacked early this morning in the Gulf of Aden.

‘Few details are known at this stage, but the mixed-nationality crew are believed to be safe.’

The Foreign Office said it was looking into the matter which is also being monitored by the London-based International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Taiwanese ship the MV Win Far 161 was also seized today near an island in the Seychelles - the second attack in that area within a week.

The seizure of the Malaspina Castle was immediately condemned by the UK ship masters’ union Nautilus, which has long urged governments to take stronger action to deter piracy.

Nautilus assistant general secretary Mark Dickinson said today: “Over the last 10 years, most governments have not really done very much about this.

‘More recently they have been motivated to act and there is an EU naval co-ordination force patrolling off the Gulf of Aden.’

He went on: ‘I’m not sure that this is going to be a long-term thing and I’m also worried that the pirates will start seizing ships well away from the areas being patrolled.

‘In Somalia, piracy is like a big, successful industry and the authorities there need to act. The pirates are treated like local heroes. People look up to them and girls want to marry them. They are seen by some locals as good people but they are ruthless.’

An IMO spokesman said the IMO had raised the matter of piracy with the UN Security Council and that East African countries had signed an agreement to work together to try to beat the problem.

There was no word on the nationalities or numbers of crew on board the two vessels or the exact time of the attacks.

Analysts say the pirates have moved many of their operations out of the Gulf of Aden, which is heavily patrolled by naval warships from countries as diverse as China, the United States, France and India.

Instead, they are attacking off the east African coast, targeting ships coming out of the Mozambican channel.

The multimillion-dollar ransoms are a rare source of cash in Somalia, where nearly half the population is dependent on food aid and clan-based militias are tearing the country apart.

The lawless Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government since 1991.

PIRATES


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 04/06/2009 at 09:01 AM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh!UK •  
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