03/16/2024, 18.17
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Somali pirates seize a ship with 23 Bangladeshi sailors

by Sumon Corraya

The cargo ship, which was sailing from Maputo to Dubai, was diverted to Somali territorial waters. An Indian Navy ship that intercepted the hijacked vessel is monitoring the situation. The Bangladesh government pledged to rescue the sailors. Another Bangladeshi ship was seized in 2010, and its crew held in captivity for 100 days.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Somali pirates have seized a Bangladeshi-flagged ship, the MV Abdullah, in the Indian Ocean, holding some 23 sailors captive at gunpoint.

The vessel, owned by the KSRM Group, was seized on 12 March; fortunately, all captives are reportedly unharmed, and efforts are underway to secure their release.

A unit of the Indian Navy yesterday intercepted the MV Abdullah following the emergency signal the ship issued at the time of the seizure, and followed it until it reached Somali territorial waters. It remains at a short distance away, monitoring the situation.

Atiqullah Khan, the commander of the hijacked ship, said in an audio message sent to the family that pirates walk around with weapons in front of sailors.

"Whenever they see a Navy ship nearby, they pick them up," he said. “When I turn to the side where I sleep, I see a big machine gun pointing at me,” he added. “I am trying to stay healthy even though I am mentally stressed.”

Dwindling food supplies are a source of concern. “Since the pirates also eat and drink with us, using our water, I cannot say how long our food will last,” Khan added.

The coal-hauling ship was sailing from Maputo (Mozambique) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and was 600 nautical miles east of Mogadishu (Somalia) at the time of the seizure, which prompted its owner, KSRM, to start rescue operations.

Bangladesh State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said that the government would ensure the sailors’ safety and repatriation.

Small, previously hijacked Iranian fishing boats were allegedly used in the attack. The MV Abdullah did not have armed security guards on board.

Drawing lessons from this incident, Bangladesh’s Department of Shipping and Commerce issued new guidelines for managing ships that use international shipping routes.

From now on, all 97 Bangladeshi-owned ships sailing in dangerous sea lanes will have to employ armed guards in accordance with international regulations.

On 5 December 2010, another ship, this one owned by the Kabir Group, the MV Jahan Mani, fell victim to Somali pirates. The ship was carrying 25 crew members and the chief engineer's wife.

After a harrowing 100-day captivity, the pirates released the hostages in the early hours of 13 March 2011.

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