Thursday, April 05, 2007
A cargo ship escaped seizure at Somalia's main port in the restive capital Mogadishu, three days after pirates captured another vessel in the same harbour, a maritime official said. Gunmen in speed boats opened fire at the MV Nishan, a UAE-registered vessel, late on Tuesday as it anchored at Mogadishu port, said Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme. "The ship was anchoring when two boats approached and gunmen opened fire. The captain contacted port authorities who sent in speed boats" to rescue it, Mwangura told reporters. The whereabouts of the vessel was unknown after it fled out to sea, Mwangura added. On Sunday, pirates hijacked an Indian cargo ship in Mogadishu port and later forced it to sail north up the coast of Somalia.
Somalia Pirate BoatMwangura said there was no word on the ship and its 14-member crew on Wednesday, after pirates demanded an unspecified ransom from the ship's agents. Meanwhile a third ship is still missing after being seized on February 25. The UN-chartered MV Rozen was hijacked with its 12-member crew and has since been held in waters off Somalia's north-east semi-autonomous Puntland region. Mwangura said negotiations to secure the ship's release had been hampered by a recent surge in fighting in Mogadishu. Waters off the unpatrolled 3 700-kilometre Somali coastline saw scores of pirate attacks between March 2005 and June last year, but these stopped during six months of strict Islamist rule of south and central Somalia. Remnants of the Islamists and clan fighters have been battling government forces and their Ethiopian backers since the start of the year.