KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA // Pirates have hijacked a Danish cargo ship with 13 crew members aboard near Somalia, a maritime official said today. The vessel was en route from the Middle East to Asia in the Gulf of Aden when it was seized yesterday, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur. The ship flies a Bahamas flag but operates out of Denmark, Mr Choong said.
"Pirates are still attacking despite increased patrols. We have urged ships to take extra precaution when transiting in this busy waterway," he said. No further details were immediately available. Nato has sent three ships to the Gulf of Aden - one of the world's busiest shipping lanes - to help the US Navy in anti-piracy patrols and to escort cargo vessels. The European Union has said at least four warships backed by aircraft will begin policing the dangerous waters in December.
The EU flotilla will eventually take over patrolling the area from Nato ships. Nevertheless, attacks have continued unabated off Somalia, which is caught up in an insurgency and has had no functioning government since 1991. There have been 81 attacks this year in the African waters, with 32 ships hijacked. Eleven vessels remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 200 crew, Mr Choong said.