Somali pirates seize Thai vesselOctober 29th, 2009 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS
Nairobi/Brussels, Oct 29 (DPA) Somali pirates seized a Thailand-flagged fishing boat on Thursday, the European Union’s anti-piracy force said, as a British couple also believed to be in pirate hands were reportedly taken into Somalia.
The European Union’s anti-piracy patrol off Somalia NAVFOR said it had spotted the Thai Union 3 coming under attack by two pirate skiffs at 0530 GMT.
“EU NAVFOR Maritime Patrol Aircraft made visual contact with the fishing vessel and confirmed that pirates were on board,” NAVFOR said in a statement. “EU NAVFOR will continue to monitor the vessel that now appears to be heading towards the Somali coast.”
It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board or their nationalities.
Pirate activity off Somalia is ramping up again after a lull due to monsoon season. NAVFOR said that the latest hijacking brought to eight the number of vessels being held by Somali pirates.
A British couple who went missing on Oct 22 while sailing their yacht from the Seychelles to Tanzania are believed to be amongst those being held by pirates.
NAVFOR said that one of its warships had confirmed a sighting of their yacht, the Lynn Rival, and was coordinating with UK ships in the area. It did not specify the location of the sighting.
Ecoterra International, a group which monitors pirate activity off Somalia, said that the yacht was seen on Tuesday between the pirate towns of Hobyo and Harardhere.
An official from Ecoterra told the German Press Agency that Paul and Racher Chandler had been taken from the vessel into Somalia itself.
Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa nation, which has not had an effective central government since 1991.
Young men take to the seas in skiff in search of multimillion-dollar ransoms despite the presence of over a dozen international warships, which were dispatched to the Gulf of Aden last year to combat a rise in piracy.
The pirates have expanded their operations further out into the Indian Ocean to avoid the patrols.
In the last few weeks, pirates have seized a Chinese cargo ship with 25 crew members, a Spanish fishing boat with 36 crew on board and a Panamanian cargo vessel carrying 26 seamen.
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Tags: british couple, central government, crew members, fishing boat, german press agency, gulf of aden, hijacking, hobyo, horn of africa, lull, maritime patrol aircraft, monsoon season, multimillion dollar, nairobi, skiff, skiffs, somali coast, somali pirates, visual contact, warships