Pirates seize cargo ship in Indian Ocean

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Somali pirates have seized a cargo vessel with 22 crew members. The Greek-owned MV Filitsa was hijacked on Wednesday in the Indian Ocean, several hundred kilometres northeast of the Seychelles islands.

The ship was carrying cargo from Kuwait to South Africa. The European Union's anti-piracy force Atalanta said the crew includes three Greeks and 19 Filipinos. The ship has turned around and is now heading north, Atalanta said. There were conflicting reports as to whether the vessel was seized 400 kilometres or 750 kilometres off of the Seychelles coast.

There are reports that Somali pirates have also hijacked a fishing boat, but identity of that vessel was not immediately clear.

The pirates have hijacked at least eight boats in the Indian Ocean since the start of October. They are holding at least a dozen ships overall, with more than 200 crew members.

Naval forces from the United States, EU, NATO, and other world powers are patrolling the waters around Somalia trying to protect commercial shipping; however, the patrols appear to have had little impact on the pirates, who have focused their efforts on the vast Indian Ocean. Many hijackings have occurred near the Seychelles, a group of islands southeast of Somalia.