Japanese tanker hijacked off Somalia: piracy watchdog
Tuesday, October 30 2007 @ 12:21 PM UTC
Contributed by: Don Winner
"Somalia has no central government so that's a big problem," Choong added.
Choong declined to name the ship but a maritime official in Nairobi identified it as the Panama-flagged Golden Mori and said it was seized about eight nautical miles off Socotra archipelago.
The captain and chief engineer are Koreans, and the remainder of the crew are Filipinos and Myanmar nationals, Choong said.
He said that for the past two weeks there has been a spike in piracy activity off the coast of war-torn Somalia, including another successful hijacking on October 17 on a cargo ship which was travelling to Mombasa, Kenya.
"It was attacked with automatic weapons and hijacked. As of last week there was still no information about the safety of the crew and the location of the ship," he said.
Choong said there were also two unsuccessful hijacking attempts in the lawless region earlier this month, but that the pirates failed to board the ships.
In Tokyo, a Japanese foreign ministry official confirmed the attack on the Panama-flagged ship.
"There are no Japanese among the crew members, but we won't disclose further information as the maritime company has requested us not to," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Pirates have attacked several vessels this year off Somalia's vast and largely unpatrolled coastline, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
The attacks stopped in the second half of 2006 during six months of strict rule by Islamists, who were ousted by Ethiopian and Somali government troops at the end of the year.
Somalia, which lies at the mouth of the Red Sea, has been without an effective government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre sparked a bloody power struggle.