Somalia s dangerous waters

April 8, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, April 8 – The capture of a Danish ship flying the American flag on Wednesday by pirates off Somalia is one of the many acts of piracy perpetrated in the region, one of the most dangerous in the world for shipping.

In just 48 hours to April 6, pirates seized ships from France, Britain, Germany, Taiwan and Yemen, defying world naval powers by prowling further out in the Indian Ocean to target victims.

Here are the main acts of piracy since the start of the year off Somalia.

— January 1: A cargo ship flying the flag of Saint-Kitts and Nevis, the Blue Star, with 28 Egyptian sailors aboard is captured by pirates near the Somali coast. On March 4 Egypt announces that the ship and its crew have been released.

— January 29: A gang of seven pirates takes control in the Gulf of Aden of a German tanker carrying gas, the MV Longchamp. The crew of 13, including 12 from the Philippines, is released in late March.

— February 22: Pirates seize a Greek cargo ship, the MV Saldanha, in the Gulf of Aden, with 22 foreign crew members.

— March 19: Pirates take hostage 24 members of a Greek cargo ship, the Titan, after boarding the ship in the Gulf of Aden.

— March 26: Two Greek and Norwegian cargo ships carrying chemicals are stormed by Somali pirates to the east of Kismayo, a port to the south of Somalia.

— April 1: Pirates capture a luxury boat operating in the Indian Ocean Seychelles archipeligo, the Indian Ocean Explorer, with seven crew members aboard.

— April 4: Somali pirates hijack a French-flagged yacht, the Tanit, with five on board, including a three-year-old child, in the Indian Ocean. On the same day, a 20,000-tonne German container carrier is hijacked, some 400 nautical miles from the Somali coast, between Kenya and the Seychelles. A day later a tug from Yemen is seized.

— April 6: A Taiwanese tuna fishing beat, the Winfar 161, and a British cargo ship, the Malaspina Castle, are captured near the Seychelles.

— April 8: Somali pirates seize Danish-owned and US-flagged ship, the "Maersk Alabama," off Somalia with 20 American crew on board, as the ship headed to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.



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