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Pirates seize two more ships off Somalia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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BOSASSO, Somalia, (Reuters) – Pirates from Somalia have hijacked two more ships, people linked to the vessels said on Friday, in the latest of a wave of attacks that have marked its waters as the most dangerous in the world.

The owners of a Thai cargo ship, the MV Thor Star, said it was seized between Somalia and Yemen on Tuesday while delivering plywood to Aden but its 28 Thai crew were unharmed.

Andrew Mwangura, the head of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, said Somali gunmen had also hijacked a Nigerian tug boat, the MT Yenegoa Ocean, last week.

The owners of the Thor Star said the pirates of that ship had made contact with them on Wednesday and assured them that all their crew members were “safe and well”.

In most cases, Somali pirates have treated captives with care in the hope of receiving substantial ransom payments.

Somali pirates are still holding a Japanese-managed bulk vessel, the MV Stella Maris, that was hijacked on July 20.

Abdulkadir Muse, the deputy ports minister for northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, told Reuters the Stella Maris had been brought to the Eyl area in recent days. “We are told they made contact with the owners,” he said.

Mwangura said this was the second time that the ill-fated Thai vessel, the Thor Star, had been attacked on the high seas.

Five years ago, armed robbers boarded the ship in Indonesian waters near Bintan Island, Mwangura said. The gang then tied up the crew and ransacked the vessel before making their getaway.

Piracy is rife off Somalia, which has been mired in anarchy since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991.

An interim government formed in 2004 after peace talks has struggled to assert its authority and faces an Iraqi-style Islamist insurgency in the capital Mogadishu and elsewhere.

A week ago, pirates freed two German tourists who had been held hostage in the mountains of northern Somalia since gunmen stormed their yacht off Yemen in June.

Local elders and associates of the gang said a $1 million ransom was paid to the kidnappers.