Gunmen hijacks Chinese ship off Kenyan coast

November 14th, 2008 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Nov 14 (Xinhua) A group of gunmen suspected to be Somali pirates Friday hijacked a Chinese fishing ship off the Kenyan coast, a source with China’s transport ministry said. According to the official, the suspected pirates captured the ship, Tanyo 8, at around 2 a.m. while it was fishing off the Kenyan coast and forced it to sail towards the coastal area off southern Somalia.

There were 24 crewmembers, including 16 Chinese, one Japanese, three Filipinos and four Vietnamese, on board the ship, the source said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers’ Association, said that the hijacking was a handy work of Somali pirates who were armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons.

They attacked the Chinese ship on the Kenyan waters probably near Lamu in eastern Kenya, Mwangura told Xinhua over telephone.

“But we have not established the motive of the attack since it’s very rare for Somali pirates to launch attacks on Kenyan waters,” he added.

The incident occurred hours after a Russian-operated cargo ship off the coast of Somalia escaped pirates who attacked it with grenade launchers and machine guns, sparking a fire on board.

The transport ministry, meanwhile, asked related departments to help deal with the incident in coordination with the country’s foreign ministry, the source said.

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