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UPDATE: The vessel is reportedly carrying at least 2,000 goats and might be released soon due to the fragility of the cargo, according to Pakistani and Indian diplomatic sources. Somalia Report will continue to monitor the situation.
Somali pirates have hijacked a United Arab Emirates-owned vessel carrying livestock in the Gulf of Aden, an official in Puntland’s Ministry for Maritime Transports, Ports and Counter-Piracy said Thursday, as figures released by the International Maritime Bureau showed Somali piracy at a new high.
“The vessel was hijacked 35 miles from Bosaso as it sailed from the port, carrying livestock bound for Dubai,” Abdi Samatar, the ministry’s general director, told Somalia Report. “There are seven Indian and seven Pakistani crew on board.”
Samatar said he believed the Al Nasr had been taken for use as a mothership. Pirates commonly target small vessels, particularly fishing dhows from Yemen, for use as floating bases from which to launch attack skiffs against merchant shipping.
Puntland forces were scrambled to the scene of the hijack, but the pirates had already sailed off to an unknown anchorage. There has been a lull in pirate attacks in recent weeks due to the monsoon season, but incidents are expected to begin picking up once the weather improves.
Attacks keep climbing
Despite the recent quiet period, the IMB said in a statement Thursday that Somali piracy had climbed to new highs.
There were 266 attacks worldwide in the first half of 2011, a rise of 36 per cent over the same period last year. Over 60 per cent of those attacks (163, compared to 100 in the first half of 2010) were carried out by Somali pirates, according to the IMB.
“In the last six months, Somali pirates attacked more vessels than ever before and they’re taking higher risks,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “This June, for the first time, pirates fired on ships in rough seas in the Indian Ocean during the monsoon season. In the past, they would have stayed away in such difficult conditions. Masters should remain vigilant.”
However, Mukundan said despite the increased number of attacks, the success rate was much lower. Only 21 ships were taken in the first half of 2011, compared to 27 over the same period last year.
He said the decrease was due to the presence of dozens of international warships and increased security measures on merchant vessels.