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Bangladeshi-flagged cargo vessel hijacked by Somali pirates near Indian Ocean, crew taken hostage


Bangladesh cargo ship, Somali pirates, Indian Ocean
Image Source : X A Bangladeshi-flagged vessel MV Abdullah was hijacked by Somali pirates.

Dubai: Somali parties have hijacked a Bangladesh-flagged cargo vessel 9MV Abdullah’ and held 23 crew members hostage in the Indian Ocean, according to local media reports citing officials and maritime security agencies. The hijacking incident occurred on Tuesday when pirates boarded the MV Abdullah heading towards the United Arab Emirates. 

The vessel was heading towards the Al Hamriyah Port in the United Arab Emirates when it was attacked, carrying about 58,000 tonnes of coal from Mozambique’s Maputo port. It belongs to the Bangladeshi organization SR Shipping Lines, a sister company of Chattogram-based Kabir Steel and Rerolling Mill Group (KSRM), and had 23 crew members aboard. 

The vessel is the latest to be targeted following a resurgence of attacks by Somali pirates in recent months although the maritime security firm, Ambrey, did not specify that it was Somali pirates who boarded the ship. Ambrey said the ship was a Bangladesh-flagged bulk carrier – a type of merchant ship used to transport large amounts of cargo – that was heading from Mozambique.

The incident happened about 600 nautical miles east of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, it said. The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency also flagged the boarding incident, putting the number of armed people who had boarded the vessel at 22. It also said the crew were unharmed.

What did officials say?

Meherul Karim, chief executive officer of KSRM, said they received a short message around 1:30 pm on Tuesday from the captain informing them of the hijacking of the ship by pirates in the Indian Ocean, as per local reports. All the crew members were held hostage, but they were safe inside the vessel’s cabin while the pirates took control, he said.

“We came to know that the vessel was under attack by pirates in the Indian Ocean. Twenty-three crew members are reportedly in a safe space inside the vessel’s cabins while the pirates have taken control of the ship,” KSRM’s media adviser Mizabul Islam told the Daily Star. 

Captain Anam Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Merchant Marine Officers’ Association, said, “We received a WhatsApp message from a hostage that pirates took over the vessel and they were locked inside the cabins. The pirates have heavy arms and ammunition… The crew have sought support and help from us. We are trying to talk to government high-ups.”

MV Abdullah, earlier known as Golden Hawk, was bought by KSRM group last year. At least 11 of its 23 crew members are from the district of Chittagong. On December 5, 2010, another vessel, MV Jahan Moni of the then Brave Royal Shipping Line, the sister concern of SR Shipping, was hijacked by pirates in the Arabian Sea off the coast of India.

Hijackings by Somali pirates

Somali pirates caused chaos in important global waterways from about 2008 to 2018. They had been dormant until late last year when pirate activity started to pick up again. Data from the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa, the planning and coordination centre for the European Union’s anti-piracy operation EUNAVFOR, show there have been more than 20 hijackings or attempted hijackings of vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin since November.

Maritime sources say pirates may be encouraged by a relaxation of security or may be taking advantage of the chaos caused by attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group while war rages in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.…

In January, the Indian Navy thwarted two hijackings by Somali pirates and rescued 19 Pakistani nationals, 36 hours after it rescued another fishing vessel FV Iman with 17 crew members on board. India has deployed at least a dozen warships east of the Red Sea to provide security against pirates and has investigated more than 250 vessels as Western powers focus on attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis, according to officials.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | Indian Navy warship rescues Iranian vessel hijacked by Somali pirates with fishermen, 17 crews: Official


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