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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wednesday 12 October 2005

SOMALIA: Pirates commandeer another ship off Somali coast

NAIROBI, 12 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - One week after a vessel carrying food aid to tsunami survivors in Somalia was released by pirates, another ship has been commandeered off the coast of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, a local source said on Wednesday.

"I can confirm that the MV Torgelow was hijacked by pirates off the Mogadishu coast," Ali Beerey Adow, spokesman for the El-Maan Port authority in northern Mogadishu, said.

The Mombasa-based, St Vincent and The Grenadines-registered ship had been expected to dock at El-Maan on Sunday, Adow said. It was not yet clear where the hijackers seized the ship and where they had taken it. "All I can tell you is it was headed north," added Adow.

Inayat Kudrati, of the Motaku Shipping Agency, which runs both vessels, said the vessel, with a crew of nine Kenyans and a Sri Lankan captain, was chartered by Somali traders and was carrying a cargo of 1,000 tonnes of "different merchandise".

He added that it was also carrying supplies of "fuel, oil, fresh water and food" to El Maan for the crew of the MV Semlow, released by hijackers on 2 October after almost 100 days in captivity.

The MV Semlow had crew of eight Kenyans, a Tanzanian and a Sri Lankan. It was seized on 27 June between Haradhere and Hobyo, some 400 km northeast of Mogadishu, en route to the Gulf of Aden port of Bossaso, in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.

The last contact with the MV Torgelow was on 8 October, Kudrati said. "We have had no communications with the ship since," he said, adding the he had learned of the hijacking from his contacts in Somalia. "We have been doing business with Somalia for 15 years and we never had any hijacking, and then in three months we have two ships hijacked."

According to Adow, the hijackers were the same ones who hijacked the MV Semlow. "They were hiding in the [abandoned] Mogadishu port and when they saw this ship they took it," he said.

Kudrati said pirates had seized 22 ships off the coast of Somalia since 15 January. "The international coalition forces patrolling the Somali coast should help protect commercial shipping from these pirates," he added.



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