x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pirates hijack UAE-owned cargo ship

Somali pirates hijacked a UAE-owned cargo ship in the Indian Ocean yesterday, the European Union naval force in Somalia reported.

ABU DHABI // Somali pirates hijacked a UAE-owned cargo ship in the Indian Ocean yesterday, the European Union naval force in Somalia reported.

Four pirates boarded the vessel after firing small arms and rocket-propelled grenades at the MV Orna, about 400 nautical miles north-east of the Seychelles archipelago. The crew was reportedly cooperating, and no damage had been reported.

A statement released by EU NAVFOR, an EU anti-piracy mission operating in Somalia that works to protect vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, said the number of sailors aboard the Panama-flagged ship was unknown.

Somali pirates have pushed further into the Indian Ocean, notably towards the Seychelles, using mother ships to launch attacks from the open sea.

Yesterday's hijacking is the latest in a series of UAE-based ships seized by pirates. In late September, the MT Asphalt Venture was sailing from Mombasa in Kenya to Durban, South Africa, when it was seized, and the 15-member crew was taken captive.

An agreement between the UAE and the Seychelles to help curb piracy was struck this summer, with the UAE pledging to provide "facilities and equipment to combat pirate attacks", as well as "assistance with surveillance equipment" and "additional expertise in maritime defence".

jthomas@thenational.ae