Somali pirates seize chemical tanker, fishing vessel


Somali pirates hijacked a German operated chemical tanker, the EU’s naval force said, making it the second reported seizure.

Firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, the pirates seized the Marshall Islands flagged tanker “Marida Marguerite” about 120 miles (190 km) south of Oman on Saturday afternoon, EU Navfor said in a statement.

The crew of 22, including 19 Indians, one Ukrainian and 2 Bangladeshis, are believed to be unharmed.
“A passing merchant ship tried to make contact by VHF radio but received a response from the bridge of the hijacked vessel to “go away”,” EU Navfor said.

Heavily armed Somali pirates have increased their attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms by hijacking ships in the Indian Ocean and the strategic Gulf of Aden, through which an estimated 7% of world oil consumption passes.

Earlier on Saturday, an East African regional maritime group said suspected Somali pirates had seized a Taiwanese fishing vessel off the waters of Seychelles.

Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme said that Taiyuan 227 has a crew comprising Chinese, Mozambicans, Kenyan and Taiwanese.
“The Taiwanese fishing vessel with a crew of 26 is taken, said to be north of Seychelles,” Mwangura told Reuters by phone.

Mwangura did not say when exactly the vessel was taken.

Citing a Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, Focus Taiwan News Channel reported on its website the vessel had lost contact with authorities.

Focus Taiwan also reported that the vessel’s owner had managed to make contact using a satellite phone and the pirates on board asked for a ransom.

The hijacking of ships near the coast of Somalia, where an Islamist insurgency and general anarchy have helped pirates to flourish, has cost the shipping industry tens of millions of dollars in ransoms for vessels and their crews.

Last Friday, Somali pirates seized a Yemeni fishing boat off Yemen’s coast, taking its crew of seven fishermen with them, and Iranian naval forces repulsed pirates attacking a commercial ship from the Islamic Republic in the Gulf of Aden.