Somali pirates hijack Indian commercial ship Al Kaushar with 11 crew members on board

Pirates have hijacked a small Indian commercial ship off the coast of Somalia and the vessel is currently headed towards the shore, a former government anti-piracy official told Reuters on Monday.

 Somali pirates hijack Indian commercial ship Al Kaushar with 11 crew members on board

Representational photo. AFP

India Today reported that Somali pirates hijacked a cargo ship named Al Kaushar while on its way to Al Mukala port in Yemen from Dubai on 1 April. There are 11 crew members on board, all of whom are from Mandvi, Mumbai.

The attack on the small ship happened as the vessel passed through the narrow channel between Yemen's
Socotra island and the Somali coast, said Graeme Gibbon Brooks, the CEO of the maritime firm Dryad Maritime.

The small dhow, a traditional wooden ship common in regional waters, initially was heading from Dubai to Bosaso, Somalia, he said. The pirates are taking the vessel to the Eyl area of northern Somalia, he added.

According to a report in Financial Express, the ship captain informed the owner that a skiff had approached them seeking water. He also tipped off authorities in Dubai.

The owners of the ship want to get in touch with the hijackers to try and figure out how the ship can be repatriated, Financial Express reported.

"We understand Somali pirates hijacked a commercial Indian ship and (it is heading) towards Somalia shores," Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, a former director of the anti-piracy agency in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region, said.

Lt Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the US Navy's 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said sailors there are "aware of the reports and we are monitoring the situation." The 5th Fleet oversees regional anti-piracy efforts.

Piracy off Somalia's coast was once a serious threat to the global shipping industry. It has lessened in recent years after an international effort to patrol near the country,
whose weak central government has been trying to assert itself after a quarter-century of conflict.

Since then, concerns about piracy off Africa's coast have largely shifted to the West Africa's Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean.

But frustrations have been rising among Somali fishermen, including former pirates, at what they say are foreign fishermen illegally fishing in local waters.

In March, Somali pirates hijacked the Comoros-flagged oil tanker Aris 13, marking the first such seizure of a large commercial vessel since 2012. They later released the vessel and its Sri Lankan crew without conditions, Somali officials said at the time.

Pirates in late March also seized a fishing trawler.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Apr 03, 2017 17:41:45 IST