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Somali pirates seize another ship

Somali pirates have hijacked a Yemeni ship loaded with steel in the Gulf of Aden, the latest in a series of recent attacks that have shipping companies questioning use of the dangerous corridor.

Somali pirates have hijacked a Yemeni ship loaded with steel in the Gulf of Aden, the latest in a series of recent attacks that have shipping companies questioning use of the dangerous corridor.

The Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia, has become a hot spot for pirate attacks. ((CBC))

Yemen's official SABA news agency said the Yemeni ship MV Adina was travelling from Mukalla port to the southern island of Socotra and had been due to dock on Nov. 20 with 507 tonnes of steel.

The Gulf of Aden links Europe to Asia and is one of the world's busiest shipping corridors.

Reuters cited Yemeni security sources as saying authorities were in touch with the pirates, who were demanding a $2-million ransom. The vessel is owned by Yemeni shipping firm Abu Talal and was carrying seven crew — three Somalis, two Yemenis and two Panamanians, sources said.

Meanwhile, one of Asia's largest shippers, Taiwan company TMT, said it is rerouting 20 oil tankers via the Cape of Good Hope. TMT's fleet is regularly employed to ferry crude oil supplies to consumers in Europe and the United States.

The latest hijacking comes 10 days after gunmen captured the Sirius Star, a Liberian-flagged ship owned by a Saudi company with $100 million worth of oil and 25 crew members aboard, far off the coast of Kenya. It marked the largest hijacking in maritime history and focused attention on the Somali pirates.

There were reports on Monday that the Somali pirates who seized the supertanker had cut their ransom demand to $15 million from $25 million.

"Middlemen have given a $15-million ransom figure for the Saudi ship. That is the issue now," said Islamist spokesman Abdirahim Isse Adow, whose men are in the Haradheere area where the ship is being held offshore.

Mwangura said sources have confirmed the changed demand, but pirates aboard the ship who were quoted by the BBC questioned those reports.

A pirate who identified himself as Daybad said no company had made contact with the hijackers, only those claiming to be intermediaries.

He said that once real negotiations began they would seek "the usual asking price" but denied reports that they had been asking for a ransom of up to $25 million.

"That doesn't exist, there is nothing of the sort and we are warning radio stations and other people about broadcasting these unreliable stories," he said, but didn't specify the ransom amount.

The Somali pirates are believed to have about a dozen boats and 200 hostages in their hands after scores of attacks this year. They have seized eight commercial ships in the past two weeks, including the Saudi supertanker.

Officials call for naval blockade

Canada's top military commander, Gen. Walter Natynczyk, has said international shipping companies should take more responsibility for their security amid increasing pirate attacks off Africa's east coast.

"There's a responsibility on the shipping companies in terms of where they are routing ships and the kind of protection they take, and it's an issue they have to resolve because what we have found is that the pirates are not a bunch of courageous people," Natynczyk said in answer to questions about the navy's future role in fighting high-seas piracy.

He made the comment on Monday as shipping officials around the world called for a naval blockade of Somalia's coast to prevent the seizure of more vessels.

Four Canadian ships — HMCS Iroquois, Calgary, Ville de Québec and Protecteur — have helped cargo ships and escorted vessels delivering humanitarian supplies in the region.

Shipping companies have opposed proposals to arm themselves, saying it could lead to rising violence and bloodshed.

Natynczyk said there needs to be an international effort to confront the lawlessness in an increasingly large stretch of the ocean.

Corrections

  • The Sirius Star is a Liberian-flagged ship owned by a Saudi company and not Iranian-chartered as originally reported.
    Nov 25, 2008 11:25 AM ET

With files from Reuters and the Canadian Press

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