Somali pirates hold 21 foreign vessels: maritime body

Somali pirates hold 21 foreign vessels: maritime body
# 20 July 2010 21:58 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Somali pirates are holding at least 21 foreign vessels plus one barge with at least 387 seafarers, an international maritime body, Ecoterra International said on Tuesday, APA reports quoting Xinhua News Agency.

In a statement, the maritime body said the 387 seafarers are languishing in the pirates hands. "Today July 20, 12h00 UTC, still at least 21 foreign vessels plus one barge are kept in Somali hands against the will of their owners, while at least 387 seafarers - suffer to be released," Ecoterra International said.

The development came after the pirates released two vessels – a Kenyan-flagged fishing vessel and a chemical tanker on Monday.

The Kenyan-flagged MV Sakoba which has a Spanish captain and 15 other crew members from Kenya, Poland, Senegal, Cape Verde and Namibia was taken hostage in waters off the Kenyan and Seychellois coasts in the first week of March.

The Marshall Islands-flagged UBT Ocean which has 21 crew members on board was hijacked while travelling off the coast of Madagascar.

The ship’s Norwegian owner Broevigtank said then the vessel had taken a route well south of the zone where pirates operate.

The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia.

Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden. About 4 percent of the world’s daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

The attacks are being carried out by increasingly well- coordinated Somali gangs armed with automatic weapons and rocket- propelled grenades, maritime officials said. Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991, and remains one of the world’s most violent and lawless countries.

The International Maritime Bureau and the UN International Maritime Organization have urged the world’s naval powers to coordinate and act against the pirates.