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Pirates seize Bangladesh bulk carrier off Somalia: owners

Chittagong, Bangladesh | March 13, 2024, Wednesday @ 07:09 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2587
Pirates seize Bangladesh bulk carrier off Somalia: owners

This handout photograph taken on January 30, 2024 and released by the Indian Navy shows an Iranian fishing vessel after it has been freed by the Indian Navy from Somali pirates, off the Somali coast, some 850 nautical miles (1,574 kilometres) west of the Indian city of Kochi. India's navy said on January 30 it had freed an Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by Somali pirates, the second in as many days, after the latest attack on Indian Ocean shipping. The warship INS Sumitra "compelled the safe release" of the 19 Pakistani crew members and the Iranian-flagged Al Naeemi fishing vessel, the spokesman said. (Photo by INDIAN NAVY / AFP) 

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Pirates have seized a Bangladesh-flagged bulk carrier off the coast of Somalia and taken its 23-member crew hostage, the boat owners said Tuesday.

The MV Abdullah was sailing from Mozambique's capital Maputo to the United Arab Emirates with a cargo of 55,000 tonnes of coal when it was attacked around midday on Tuesday, the company said.

"A group of 15-20 Somali pirates hijacked the ship," said Meherul Karim, chief executive officer of Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills, which owns the vessel.

The company released an audio message from one of the crew held hostage, who said that gunmen in two speed boats approached the vessel and opened fire.

Karim said the crew were unharmed, adding that "we are waiting for the next message and call."

Mizanul Islam, a company spokesman, said the attack took place around 550 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) off the coast of Somalia.

Hijackings off Somalia since December have fuelled concerns about a resurgence of Indian Ocean raids by opportunistic pirates, coming on top of a separate surge in attacks launched by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

Huthi gunmen have launched scores of attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden targeting what they deem to be Israeli-linked vessels in response to Israel's war against the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

International naval forces have been diverted north from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea, sparking fears that pirates will exploit the security gap.

The first successful case of Somali piracy since 2017 was recorded in December.

Naval forces -- including from India, Sri Lanka and the Seychelles -- have since freed fishing boats seized by gunmen and thwarted other attempted attacks.

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast peaked in 2011 -- with gunmen launching attacks as far as 3,655 kilometres (2,270 miles) from the Somali coast in the Indian Ocean -- before falling off sharply after international navies sent warships and commercial shipping deployed armed guards.

Analysts however say that Somali piracy today poses nowhere near the threat it did in 2011.

© Agence France-Presse

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