Friday, May 30, 2008
Kenya's maritime official confirmed late Thursday that Somali pirates have hijacked two more ships in the Gulf of Aden. Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program told Xinhua that the ships were seized on Wednesday in the same area where a Dutch-owned vessel was seized by pirates on Monday. "The vessels were seized on Wednesday where the Dutch-owned vessel was hijacked on Monday. We have not received any information concerning the crew members and their nationalities," Mwangura said by telephone. He also said he has no information on who owns the MV Lehmann Timber and the MV Arena or demands by the pirates. Somali coastal waters are among the most hazardous in the world. Last year, more than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters. The attacks bring the total number of ships hijacked in the area this year to 26.The coastal waters off Somalia, which has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity, are considered to be among the most dangerous waterways for shipping in the world. The global maritime body advises merchant ships to stay at least 200 nautical miles from the country's coast. Somali authorities have publicly blamed Western firms for paying hefty ransoms thus encouraging more hijackings. Some pirates have been arrested in connection with the attacks, but that has failed to halt the hijackings. Last month the United States and France introduced a U.N. resolution that would allow countries to chase and arrest pirates off Somalia' s coast. Somalia has no navy and is unable to police its own shores. Somalia has not had an effective central government for more than 17 years and is plagued by insecurity.