Monday, October 24, 2005

Somalia Appeals For International Help To Combat Pirates In Its Waters

Pirates have seized a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, local officials have confirmed.
*MV Miltzow: 12 Oct - 14 Oct
*MV Toregelow: 8 Oct
*Ibnu Batuta: 26 Sep - 3 Oct
*MV Semlow: 27 June - 3 Oct
They said the Maltese-registered ship, Pagania, was attacked late on Wednesday as it sailed from South Africa to Europe with a cargo of iron ore. The hijackers are reportedly demanding a $700,000 (£394,000) ransom for the release of the ship and its crew, all believed to be Ukrainian. More than 20 ships have been seized or attacked in the area since March. The International Maritime Bureau - which records such attacks - has recently advised ships "to keep as far away as possible from the Somali coast". A UN-chartered ship carrying food aid to tsunami victims in northern Somalia, the MV Semlow, was released this month, after being held by hijackers for 100 days. Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme from Kenya's port of Mombasa said the vessel was seized some 167km off the Somali coast. "They are demanding $700,000," Mr Mwanguara told the AFP news agency. Officials in Somali's capital, Mogadishu, confirmed the incident. A spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry was quoted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying the ship's 22-strong crew were all Ukrainian nationals. The spokesman, Dmytro Svystkov, said that contact with the ship's captain had been established and all the crew were unharmed. International maritime officials say Somali waters are some of the world's most dangerous. Somalia's transitional prime minister has recently asked neighbouring countries to send warships to patrol the coast. Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

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