EU naval probes hijack of cargo ship off Somalia


The EU naval force in Somalia is investigating reports of possible hijack of a cargo ship over the weekend in the Gulf of Aden amid resurgence of piracy off the coast of Somalia.

“EU Naval Force is working with counter-piracy partners to investigate reports of a possible piracy incident involving a cargo vessel on Saturday in the Gulf of the Aden,” it said in a statement on Sunday. “Further information will be provided by the EU Naval Force once facts about the incident are confirmed.”

A merchant ship designed for the bulk transport of oil was briefly hijacked by Somali pirates on Saturday evening but later abandoned on Sunday before naval forces freed the vessel, reports said.

The latest incident came after the United Nations warned that recent attacks on commercial ships off the coast of Somalia highlight the continued threat of piracy.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) called on ships to follow advice of navies and that of the International Maritime Organization while planning passage through the region.

“After three attacks, following a lull of five years, it is clear that Somali pirates are resurgent and intent on continuing attacks on commercial shipping,” UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov said in a statement on April 4.

“I urge the international community to be vigilant, to work in close partnership and to hold the Somali pirates accountable,” he added.

In March, Somali pirates attacked two vessels and a cargo ship. While the crews of the two vessels were later released, the cargo ship’s crew are still held hostage, reports said.

According to UNODC, large parts of the Somali coast remain beyond the reach of law enforcement authorities.

Somali pirates have in the past received hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom from hijacking vessels. Some hostages were injured or killed in the process.

The pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades (RPG). They sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.