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Liberian bulker Voc Daisy hijacked by Somali pirates with 21 Filipinos aboard

Liberian bulker Voc Daisy hijacked by Somali pirates with 21 Filipinos aboard

Nairobi: Four suspected Somali pirates carrying AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade seized a bulk carrier with 21 crew on board today, writes Associated Press. This is the fourth ship pirates have seized in less than a week, officials said.
The Panamanian-flagged, Liberian-owned Voc Daisy was taken about 200 miles (300 kilometers) outside the corridor where international warships guard convoys of merchant vessels, said Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force.

The hijacking of the Voc Daisy follows an attack on three Thai fishing vessels Sunday. Pirates now hold 15 vessels and 326 crew, according to an Associated Press count.

The Voc Daisy, which had been heading from the United Arab Emirates toward the Suez Canal, was registered with security officials and raised an alarm before the four armed pirates stormed aboard. It was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden about 200 miles southeast of Oman.

The hijacking of the three Thai vessels Sunday was almost 600 miles (965 kilometers) outside the normal operation area for the EU Naval Force. Pirates have expanded their range south and east in response to an increase in patrols by European and American warships off the Somali shore.

The International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday that sea attacks worldwide fell by more than a third in the first quarter this year thanks to a decline in pirate raids in the Gulf of Aden.

The number of attacks dipped by 34 percent to 67 in the January to March period, down from 102 incidents in the same period a year ago, the IMB's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur said. Eleven vessels were seized, with 194 crew members taken hostage including 12 who were injured, it said.

The IMB said pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden dropped to 17 from 41 a year ago, thanks to patrols by international navies and anti-piracy measures by merchant vessels. The east and south coasts of Somalia recorded 18 incidents, down from 21 a year ago.

IMB Director Capt. Pottengal Mukundan said there were cases where international navies in the Indian Ocean have disrupted suspected pirates, destroyed their boats and confiscated equipment.

"Such positive and robust action by the navies against mother ships, pirate skiffs and pirate action groups has been vital to keeping the attacks under control and must be sustained," he added.

Last year, sea attacks worldwide surged 39 percent to a six-year high of 406 cases, with 49 vessels hijacked.

Analysts blame Somalia's nearly 20 years of lawlessness for fueling piracy's rise. The IMB said the attacks were opportunistic in nature, with pirates sometimes paid multi-million-dollar ransoms.  [21/04/10]