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Somali pirates grab fishing boat raising new warnings to merchant ships

Tuesday May 14, 2024

Italian sailors visiting a fishing dhow in the Indian Ocean (EUNAVFOR Atalana)

The Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa issued an urgent warning to shipping today in a still unfolding situation. Somali pirates are believed to have taken control today of a fishing boat. In the past, EUNAVFOR Atalanta has warned that attacks on merchant ships appear to take place within 12 days after reports of dhow hijackings.

Today’s report says that a fishing vessel was hijacked approximately 69 nautical miles east of the Somalia coast or approximately 120 nautical miles southeast of Eyl, Somalia. Security consultants Neptune P2P Group quotes the report from MSCHOA detailing that a skiff manned with six to seven pirates carrying Kalashnikov rifles attacked the vessel before seizing it. The ship’s AIS tracker is not currently active.

“The frequency and scale of piracy attacks has significantly risen over the past year,” Neptune P2P writes in its assessment. “It is likely that these incidents will continue to rise in frequency and scale as their operations become more profitable. The PAGs expanding their operations up to 1000nm off the Somali coast.”

Atalanta estimated at the beginning of May that at least two or more pirate action groups (PAGs) could be sailing off the Somali coast, at the area around Socotra and 500NM east off the island in the ASea. Last week they warned that two PAGs or more are active in the area of Socotra Island and 500NM East of Socotra.

This was followed by a report of a suspicious approach to a product tanker last Friday when the vessel’s security guards exchanged gunfire with the pirates. The Spanish frigate Canarias responded and located the pirates. They provided medical treatment and confirmed that the six individuals who had conducted the piracy raid were arrested. They were being taken to the Seychelles, which has a legal agreement that permits the prosecution of pirates captured by warships operating in the area.

According to Neptune P2P, there have been 19 confirmed successful hijackings since November 2023. Atalanta records a total of 31 incidents as of the end of April and before the approach Friday and today’s hijacking.


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