Pirates have seized a Panama-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 31 off the coast of Somalia, the European Union Naval Force for Somalia (EU Navfor) said.
The anti-piracy taskforce EU Navfor said that the 24,105 tonne MV Hannibal II was taken while sailing to Suez from Malaysia ferrying vegetable oil.
“The master of the vessel reported that he had been attacked and boarded by pirates in an area some 860 nautical miles East of The Horn of Africa which is considerably closer to India than it is to Somalia,” EU Navfor said in a statement, Reuters reports.
The naval force said the ship’s crew consisted of 23 Tunisians, four Filipinos, a Croat, a Georgian, a Russian and a Moroccan.
Somalia has lacked an effective central government for almost two decades and is awash with weapons. The chaos on land has allowed piracy to boom in the strategic waterways off its shores linking Europe to Asia and Africa.
Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulkers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, despite the efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on such attacks.
Last week, pirates said they received a record ransom of US$9.5 million for the release of Samho Dream, a South Korean oil supertanker they hijacked in the Indian Ocean in early April this year.