Wednesday, November 19, 2008
An Indian warship destroyed a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden and gunmen from Somalia seized two more vessels despite a large international naval presence off their lawless country.
The buccaneers have taken a Thai fishing boat, a Greek bulk carrier and a Hong Kong-flagged ship heading to Iran since Saturday’s spectacular capture of a Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million (66 million pounds) of oil, the biggest ship hijacked in history.
Saudi Arabia said the supertanker’s owners were in talks over a possible ransom, despite official reservations about negotiations with hijackers. Iran said it was seeking contact with the Hong Kong ship it had chartered to import grain.
The explosion of piracy off Somalia this year has driven up insurance costs, made some shipping companies divert around South Africa and prompted an unprecedented military response from NATO, the European Union and others.
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“The pirates are sending out a message to the world that ‘we can do what we want, we can think the unthinkable, do the unexpected’,” Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told Reuters in Mombasa.
India’s navy said one of its warships destroyed a pirate ship in the Gulf of Aden in a brief battle late on Tuesday.
“Fire broke out on the vessel and explosions were heard, possibly due to exploding ammunition that was stored on the vessel,” the navy said, adding that two speed boats sped away.
The International Maritime Bureau said pirates from the Horn of Africa nation had hijacked a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew. That followed the capture of the Hong Kong-flagged ship carrying grain bound for Iran.
This article was posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 10:37 am