Somali pirates have hijacked the MV Leila in the Arabian Sea, bringing the total number of attacks against ships to more than 40 this year.
The vessel was captured on Wednesday around 50 nautical miles south-southwest of Ras Al Madrakah, Oman, the International Maritime Bureau reports. However, the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) reports that the vessel was captured on Thursday with 24 crew on board, while the IMB states there were 15 crew on board.
The Panama-flagged roll on/roll off cargo vessel is owned and operated by New Port Cargo & Shipping of Dubai, United Arab Emirates and was built in 1973. In 2009, the vessel was subject to a legal action and its crew held in Somaliland for several months, Neptune Maritime Security reports.
The hijacking was confirmed to the Somalia Report by local pirates, who said that, “a group of pirates hijacked a new vessel this week. The pirates contacted their friends in the Ceel-Dhanaae area after they had hijacked the vessel.”
“The hijackers told us that it is a Panama-flagged ship with 24 crew on board,” said a pirate in Garacad. “I don’t know more details about the vessel right now. The pirates are out of phone service and we are not currently in contact with them.”
The Somalia Report adds that pirates have hijacked the UAE-owned MV Savina-Fahad, which was carrying charcoal. Apparently the vessel was captured in the Indian Ocean while sailing from the Somali town of Kismayo to the UAE. An anonymous source said that the vessel had at least ten Pakistani crew on board. The vessel will most likely be used as a mother ship and not ransomed.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Somali pirates attempted to hijack a chemical tanker 500 nautical miles east of the Seychelles, but they were deterred by warning shots from an onboard security team.
The chaos in Somalia has seen piracy off its shores expand into an international criminal enterprise that the One Earth Foundation said costs the world economy up to US$7 billion a year.
Pirate gangs, their investors and financiers brought in at least US$155 million in ransoms in 2011.