Pirates Attack Humanitarian Relief Vessel

by Jerry Garner - Date: 2007-02-28 - Word Count: 680 Share This!

Pirates off the coast of Somalia have hijacked a cargo ship conducting a humanitarian mission for the United Nations. The United States is reported to have dispatched a war ship to protect other humanitarian vessels after this latest pirate attack.

Sea pirates hijacked the freighter, MV Rozen, Sunday morning. Reports state that the vessel was boarded off the coast of North-Eastern Somalia, by an organized gang of pirates brandishing AK-47s. The attack has caused many to fear a resurgence of the piracy that was once widespread and rampant in the area.

According to a spokesperson for the UN World Food Program, the vessel had just completed delivery of 1,800 tons of food aid to the towns of Bosasso and Berbera. Having unloaded the cargo, the ship was on it's return voyage to vessel's home port in Mombasa, Kenya.

"It was hijacked this morning at about 9.30am near the town of Bargal," said Stephanie Savariaud, a spokesperson for the United Nations.

The attack followed warnings from Kenya that there could possibly be a resurgence of piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Andrew Mwangura, a representative of the International Seafarers Assistance Program, said, "As it was heading home, the heavily-armed pirates emerged from a motorboat, they jumped in the ship and seized it."

The identity of the pirates is not known at this time. In the past, similar attacks have been carried out by a well-organized cartel of Somalis. The pirates typically use speed boats mounted with machine guns to catch up to the slower moving ocean liners, and then board the vessel with automatic weapons.

Somali pirates are once again becoming a well-known problem along the shipping corridors of Eastern Africa. By some accounts, their attacks even rival those of the armed gangs who plague the Malacca Straight in the South China Sea.

The Kenyan company that operates the MV Rozen, Motaku Shipping, has had a particularly difficult time with the pirates. Following this recent attack on the Rozen, the company said that all four vessels under it's command have suffered from piracy in the last two years.

The MV Torgelo, also operated by Motaku Shipping, fell victim to pirates in October 2005 as she came to the aid of her sister vessel, the Semlow. The Semlow had been hijacked by pirates more than three months earlier while delivering aid to Somalia's tsunami victims, and both she ship and the crew were held captive for 100 days before being released.

Only a week after the Torgelo hijacking, the company's other vessel, the Miltzow, was hijacked and held by pirates for two days before being released. The company now instructs it's vessels to remain at least 200 miles away from the coast of Somalia to avoid attacks by pirates, but this is an impossible task when you are delivering foreign aid to cities in that country.

At this time, both the Rozen and it's crew of 12 men are still missing. The crew of comprised of six Kenyans and six Sri Lankans, including the Captain. The few details that are available were relayed by the Captain of the vessel before the pirates finally gained entry to the ship's control room.

"I do not know what I will tell the relatives of the crew when they start camping outside my office tomorrow," said Karim Kudrath in an open press statement. Kudrath is the General Manager of Motaku Shipping in Mombasa, Kenya.

The same vessel under attack in this instance narrowly escaped an attack by pirates last March when making another humanitarian delivery. The problem of piracy has become so bad that shipping in the area has slowed to a crawl.

"We are the only shipping company that has agreed to take food to Somalia," Kudrath said.

He continued to say, "I am very doubtful if we will continue to offer our services to Somalia. It is getting very difficult for us."

Said Warsame, a World Food Program spokeswoman, has stated that a US War Ship has been dispatched to confront sea pirates. Warsame stated that the war ship is still in international waters, but is heading towards the area. US officials in Nairobi have not yet confirmed these reports.

Related Tags: relief, un, piracy, pirate, united nations, somalia, humanitarian aid

Jerry Garner is a resident of Las Vegas and a frequent contributor to many publications, both internet and print. While his writing covers a wide variety of topics, he is most known for his inside knowledge of casino operations around the world. This knowledge is often on display on Garner's web site at http://www.globalgamingnews.com/

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