Singaporean ship seized off Somalia

Al Jazeera

International navies have failed to end piracy off the Somalia coast (AFP)

Somali pirates have captured a Singaporean container ship in the Indian Ocean near the Seychelles.

The MV Kota Wajar was seized 300 nautical miles north of the Seychelles on Thursday morning, Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, said.

Mwangura said the ship, which was heading to the Kenyan port of Mombasa from Singapore, had 21 crew aboard.

The maritime security centre of the European Union, which has an anti-piracy naval force patrolling waters affected by Somali piracy, said an EU maritime patrol aircraft had been tasked to investigate the situation.

Experts had warned in recent days that dropping winds near the Seychelles had attracted pirates.

Somali pirate gangs have made millions of dollars in ransom payments since last year and patrols by foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden have failed to end the problem.

The latest hijacking brings the number of vessels held by Somali pirates to at least six. The others include a Spanish trawler, a Taiwanese fishing vessel and Ukrainian, German and Turkish freighters.

According to non-governmental observers Ecoterra International, at least 163 attacks have been carried out by Somali pirates since the start of 2009. Forty-seven of them have been successful hijackings.

Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.

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