Somali pirates seized a small Dutch vessel this morning with eight crew members on board, in the latest hijacking in the world’s most dangerous waterways, a regional maritime group says.
“It happened in the Gulf of Aden… That’s all I have at the moment,” Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Kenya-based East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, told Reuters.
Somali pirate activity has been frenetic in recent weeks, despite an unprecedented international naval deployment in the area intended to deter gangs marauding in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden waters off their coast.
Pirates freed a UAE-owned cargo ship freed on Wednesday and captured an Antigua and Barbuda-flagged vessel the day before.
They are holding around 18 ships with some 250 hostages, according to local piracy monitoring groups.
The UAE-owned cargo ship was captured at the weekend en route to Mogadishu with goods for local businessmen.
“We released the ship before dawn today after we identified that it was chartered for Somali traders,” a pirate, who identified himself as Hussein, told Reuters by telephone from Haradheere.
Local traders confirmed the release of the Al Meezan, which was carrying flour, used cars, sugar and other items, according to pirate sources.
No ransom was believed to have been paid.
“The traders who owned the goods on the ship and the pirates identified each other, and so they agreed to release it,” Ali Mohamed Siad, chairman of a local Somali traders’ organisation, told Reuters by telephone in Mogadishu.