Somali pirates hijack ship with 24 Filipino seamen

SOMALI pirates have hijacked a Greek bulk carrier with 24 crew members in the Gulf of Aden, about 490 nautical miles southwest of Oman, an EU anti-piracy task force said on Monday.

EU Naval Force spokesman Paddy O’Kennedy said the Cypriot flagged MV Eagle was attacked and pirated by a single skiff, with pirates firing small arms and a rocket propelled grenade before boarding the vessel. “The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 nautical miles southwest of Salaam, Oman. There has been no contact with the ship since the attack,” O’Kennedy said.

He added that the vessel has deadweight of 52,163 tons and a crew of 24 Filipinos and was on passage from Aqabar (Jordon) to Paradip (India) when it was attacked.

“There is no information concerning the condition of the crew. EUNAVFOR is monitoring the situation,” he said.

The pirates have intensified their action in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. Most of hijackings end without casualties when a ransom has been paid, but often after several months of negotiations.

The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia. Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden.

Pirate gangs operating along Somalia’s 1,900-mile-long (3,100 km) coastline have become increasingly audacious over the past two years, hijacking dozens of merchant ships and their crews to earn ransoms that can top 1 million U.S. dollars per ship.

So far the fledgling government has not dared go after the pirate strongholds, since pirate leaders have more power than the beleaguered Somali government. PNA/Xinhua

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