Pirates have seized a Comoran passenger boat inside Tanzania’s territorial waters and it has now run out of fuel, the Comoros’ Centre for Rescue Operations and Civil Protection (COESP) said.
The nationality of the pirates was not immediately clear but Somali sea-bandits have plagued the Gulf of Aden and western Indian Ocean as far south as the Comoros for several years.
Colonel Mougni Daho, head of COESP, said the pirates hijacked the 40-metre Aly Zulfecar on Tuesday morning near the Tanzanian island of Mafia.
“The pirates have only demanded fuel from the Tanzanian authorities who were able to establish contact (with the vessel),” COESP said in a statement. There were a total of 13 Tanzanians, 12 Comorans and 4 Malagasy among the passengers and crew, it added, reports Reuters.
Somali pirates often use larger “motherships” to extend their range deep into the Indian Ocean, launching their raids from small skiffs. They have been known to attack for fuel when their own supplies run low. The European Union’s anti-piracy taskforce, EU Navfor, said on Wednesday that a hijacked Panama-flagged tanker, MV Polar, was now anchored off Hobyo, a Somali pirate base.
The Liberian-owned tanker was seized 580 miles east of Socotra island on Oct. 30. Capturing vessels has become a major money spinner for pirates who typically do not harm the crew of seized ships in the expectation of securing a ransom.