Somali pirates have kept 7 hostages on board the vessel hijacked last week off Somalia, indicating that it could be intended for use as a mother ship for further attacks, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) cited local reports.
The vessel, identified as the ocean going dhow Asayr 2 operating out of Bosaso, was attacked by 6 pirates in 2 skiffs.
At the time of the attack, the dhow was carrying an estimated crew of 20 and one Somali guard. After the hijacking, the pirates reportedly dropped off most of the crew and the embarked guard near the village of Maraya in Somalia’s Puntland state and returned to sea with the Asayr 2.
“The escalation in pirate activity is troubling, but does not necessarily indicate a large scale trend in the renewal of pirate activity, since attacks against dhows have been historically under-reported by major agencies over the last few years,” OBP said, adding that the suspected intention to use the Asayr 2 as a mother ship “is alarming as it could extend the range of the pirates and expose the crew to increased dangers.”
The ocean going dhow is the second vessel taken by the pirates during the previous month. Earlier in March the Somali pirates hijacked the Comoros-flagged bunkering tanker Aris 13 some 18 km off the northern tip of Somalia, their first vessel since 2012.
The ship and the crew were soon freed following negotiations between the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), local Somali authorities, clan elders in the Xabo region, and the pirates.