Somalian pirates hijack cargo vessel with all-Indian crew

Somalian pirates hijack cargo vessel with all-Indian crew

A small size cargo vessel with 10 Indian crew members from Gujarat's Mandvi was hijacked by pirates and taken to a Somalian port, officials said here today.

"It is a dhow which was hijacked yesterday and has now reached Biyo in Somalia," Director General of Shipping Malini Shankar told PTI.

The 62-metre long vessel was on a voyage from Dubai to the war-torn Yemen when it was hijacked by the pirates.

The Indian-flagged ship has an all-Indian crew of 10 and sailed from the historic port town of Mandvi in Gujarat, she said, adding no details of the cargo are available.

Shankar also said no ransom demand has been raised so far for the crew and it is possible that the pirates from Somalia are interested in the cargo, which may be discharged in Biyo.

Some reports speculated that the vessel might be carrying food and civil supplies to the civil war hit Yemen.

Dhows are small sized vessels generally used on smaller routes.
An international aid group working in such cases of piracy and hostage crisis has already been contacted by the Indian officials, she said.

There has been a meeting with officials from the Indian Navy today and an inter-ministerial group of officials from different ministries will be meeting in New Delhi tomorrow, Shankar said.

The ship's owner, Feroze Hussain Thain, an Indian based in Dubai is not reachable but a close aide of his is in contact, Shankar said.

The seas around the Gulf of Aden and the Western Arabian Sea are notorious for being targeted by the Somali pirates till about three years ago.

Coordinated operations by different navies of the world, including the India Navy, helped secure the seas which see the movement of a huge quantum of global trade, including oil originating in West Asia.

India, being one of the biggest manpower suppliers to the international maritime trade, has often been hit by such attacks and many Indian sailors have spent weeks or months in captivity of the Somalian pirates, waiting for a release after negotiations.

The high incidence of piracy had led to a group of insurers to declare an area very close to Indian waters as a high risk zone, which led to the levy of high risk premium that impacted sea trade.

The premium was making imports costlier and exports uncompetitive, but the fall in instances of piracy had helped India to convince insurers in de-classifying the area as a high risk one.

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