Belgian ship hijacked off Horn of Africa by Somali pirates

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Belgian ship has been hijacked by Somali pirates in waters off the coast of the Horn of Africa, according to a Belgian government's crisis management centre spokesman. The vessel involved in the incident was the 65-metre, 1,850 Pompei, en route to the Seychelles islands, located further south.

The ship sent out two alarms at 04.30 and 05.00 GMT on Friday. Aboard the vessel were ten crew members, including four Croatians, three Filipinos, two Belgians and the Dutch captain.

"The ship has been spotted and we can confirm that it has been taken hostage," Benoit Ramacker of the crisis management centre said.

Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Aden, located further north, a NATO commander announced that the authorities had responded from a distress call sent by a Marshall Islands tanker, which had also come under attack by pirates.

Piracy is rampant in the waters off Africa's eastern shores, with sixty ships having been hijacked by pirates since the beginning of last year.