Pirates hijack huge cargo ship in Indian Ocean and redirect it towards Somalia

Owner of vessel says group of 15-20 pirates hijacked ship, fired shots and took the crew hostage

Shweta Sharma
Wednesday 13 March 2024 16:01 GMT
Warships prepare for pirates

A Bangladeshi cargo vessel has been hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean and around 23 people on board have been taken hostage, the vessel’s owner has said.

The vessel, MV Abdullah, was sailing with a cargo of 55,000 tonnes of coal when it was attacked by pirates on Tuesday and is now heading in the direction of Somalia.

“A group of 15-20 Somali pirates hijacked the ship,” said Meherul Karim, chief executive officer of Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills, the owner of the vessel.

The bulk commodity carrier was sailing from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates and was attacked in the Indian Ocean about 600 nautical miles east of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, said maritime security firm Ambrey.

There has been a resurgence of attacks by opportunistic pirates in recent months.

They compound a security crisis in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, where Houthi rebels have launched attacks on vessels, prompting retaliatory measures from the US and UK.

With international naval forces diverted north from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea, fears of such attacks have increased as pirates exploit the security gap.

Kabir Steel Re-Rolling Mills released an audio message from one of the crew members who had been taken hostage. He said the gunmen came in two speedboats and opened fire as they boarded the vessel.

The Indian navy captured 10 Somali pirates after they thwarted the attempted hijacking of the fishing vessel Al Naeemi off the east coast of Somalia, on 29 January, 2024

The crew members of the ship were unharmed, officials of the company said, adding that “we are waiting for the next message and call”.

Pictures of distress messages sent by the crew showed one member requesting urgent help, saying, “they have gun”, according to the Daily Somalia.

According to ship’s tracking data, the MV Adbullah came to a halt in the Indian Ocean before reversing its course, Bloomberg reported.

The first incident of hijacking since 2017 was reported at the end of last year when naval forces operating in the area warned against two piracy groups working in the Indian Ocean.

Earlier in January, the Indian Navy carried out two rescue missions in the Indian Ocean to free vessels hijacked by Somali pirates. Around 19 Pakistani nationals were rescued after their Iranian-flagged fishing vessel was seized.

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