Pirates seize ship off Somalia


Somali pirates today seized a roll-on roll-off ship with 24 crew off the port of Aden today, in the third such incident in the waters off east Africa since Saturday, according to a maritime monitoring agency.

"The owners reported to NATO that pirates boarded the ro-ro vessel MV Iceberg 1 today just 10 miles outside Aden Port in the Gulf of Aden," said the Kenyan-based Ecoterra. "The vessel with her 24 member crew is now commandeered towards the Somali coast."

Pirates are highly active off the coast of Somalia, increasing the range of their attacks, acquiring millions of dollars in ransoms and defying a flotilla of foreign warships that is trying to monitor the region's sea lanes.

Somali pirates also seized a Seychelles fishingboat and its six crew 100kms off the coast of the archipelago's main island.

The Seychelles coastguard's acting chief, Major George Adeline, said it had a vessel monitoring the hijacked boat, now 300kms off the archipelago's capital Mahe.

A pirate source said two ships were hijacked at the weekend.

"We hijacked two boats on Saturday night and Sunday in the Indian Ocean," he said. "One is an Iranian tourist boat with 21 crew, and the other is a Seychelles boat with six crew."

There was no independent confirmation that the Iranian boat had been seized.

Sea gangs have plagued the busy shipping lanes off Somalia for years. As well as holding some ships for ransom, pirates also hijack vessels to use as 'motherships' which ferry the gunmen and their speedboats far out to sea.