An Iranian-owned vessel, identified as MV EGLANTINE, sailing under a Bolivian flag, was hijacked yesterday morning in Maldivian waters, the Minivan News reports.
The cargo ship was seized about 190 nautical miles northwest of Hoarafushi Island in Haa Alif Atoll by Somali pirates, who took 23 crew members as their hostages, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed.
“Since it is a hijacking it is possible that the pirates will be armed. I cannot give further details on the mission. There are factors to be considered before going to a direct confrontation or rescue,” said Major Abdul Raheem, MNDF Spokesperson adding that they also requested assistance from foreign authorities.
This is the first case of hijacking recorded by Maldivian authorities, however due to the strategic position of the islands it was just a matter of time when the growing threat posed by Somali pirates will become reality.
Namely, based on the data provided by the Ecoterra International group, which is engaged in keeping track of the piracy situation in the region, at the end of last year over 400 people were still being held hostages aboard of at least 40 vessels by pirates, predominantly that of Somali origin.
World Maritime News Staff, March 27, 2012