Pirates seize control of cargo ship near Somalia, say owners

MV Abdullah was sailing from Mozambique’s capital Maputo to the United Arab Emirates when it was attacked.

Pirates have seized a Bangladesh-flagged bulk carrier off the coast of Somalia and taken its 23-member crew hostage, the ship’s owners said.

The MV Abdullah was sailing from Mozambique’s capital Maputo to the United Arab Emirates with a cargo of 55,000 tonnes of coal when it was attacked on Tuesday, according to Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills, which owns the vessel.

“A group of 15-20 Somali pirates hijacked the ship,” said Meherul Karim, chief executive officer of Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills.

Maritime security firm Ambrey confirmed that a group of armed people had taken control of the ship.

The incident happened in the Indian Ocean about 600 nautical miles (1,111km) east of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, said Ambrey.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) advised caution to other vessels in the area and said that it was investigating the incident.

Hijackings off Somalia since December have raised concerns about a resurgence of Indian Ocean raids by opportunistic pirates, coming on top of a separate surge in attacks on shipping launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The Houthis have launched many attacks in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden targeting vessels they say are linked to Israel, the United States or the United Kingdom in response to Israel’s war on Gaza.

International naval forces have been diverted north from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea, leading to fears that pirates will exploit the security gap.

Somali pirates caused chaos in global waterways for a decade from about 2008 to 2018.

Data from the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa, the planning and coordination centre for the European Union’s anti-piracy operation EUNAVFOR, show there have been more than 20 hijackings or attempted hijackings of ships in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin since November.

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