Pirates hijack bulk carrier; capture Danish family


Pirates hijacked the Greek-owned bulk carrier MV Dover in the North Arabian sea yesterday, while the Danish government announced that pirates had captured a Danish family and their sailboat, including three children.

The MV Dover was seized by pirates about 260 nautical miles northeast of Salalah in Oman. “The Panamanian flagged, Greek owned vessel was on its way to Saleef (Yemen) from Port Quasim (Pakistan) when it was attacked,” the European Union’s anti-piracy taskforce said in a statement. The crew include three Romanian citizens, one Russian and 19 Filipinos.

Meanwhile, on Monday Denmark’s government said that pirates hijacked a Danish sailboat as it was crossing the Indian Ocean. The vessel sent out a distress signal on Thursday and is now being towed toward the Somali coast.

The yacht was carrying a Danish couple, their three children (ages 12 to 16) and two crewmembers from the Maldives to Suez. The Danish naval vessel Esbern Snare is heading towards the yacht’s position.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said she was “deeply concerned,” over the incident, according to the Associated Press. “It is almost unbearable to think that there are children involved, and I can only sharply denounce the pirates’ actions.”

It is believed that this is the first time children have been kidnapped by pirates.

The incident was the second time in a week that a yacht was captured. On Friday 18 February Somali pirates hijacked the American yacht Quest while on its way to Djibouti.

The American naval vessel USS Sterett was sent to negotiate with the pirates on Monday but the next day gunfire broke out on the yacht. The four American hostages on board were killed along with two pirates. It is not clear who started firing first and it seems that the pirates may have begun fighting amongst themselves, the US Navy says.

The attack marked the first time American have been murdered by Somali pirates since a wave of attacks began six years ago. The United States said it may bring the 15 Somali pirates captured in the incident to American courts for prosecution over the killings.

In a separate incident, pirates released the Japanese vessel MV Izumi on Friday, the European Union naval force said yesterday. The Panama-flagged ship and its Filipino crew of 20 are believed to be making for a safe port. There is no information on the condition of the vessel or the crew. The ship was captured in October last year.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), there have been seven unsuccessful attempts at hijacking ships off the Somali coastal region during the last five days. The IMB reports that Somali pirates are currently holding 33 vessels and 711 hostages.