Pirates off Somali coast hijack cargo ship, kill crew member
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Pirates who hijacked a cargo ship off the coast of Somalia and killed one of its crew members have released the vessel after holding it for a week, officials said Sunday.The ship, the United Arab Emirates-based Al Taj, had 10 crew members on board, said Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program. He did not know what cargo the ship was carrying.The vessel was hijacked last week and released Saturday night, he said.Salad Mo’alin of the Kissima Trading Co., which had cargo on board the vessel, said he made contact with the boat on Sunday. “The captain told us that he was sailing back to Dubai,” he said.Somalia has had no coast guard or navy since 1991, when warlords ousted longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.Piracy rose sharply last year, with the number of reported incidents at 35, compared with two in 2004, according to the International Maritime Bureau. The bandits target both passenger and cargo vessels for ransom or loot. Somalia’s 1,860 mile coastline is Africa’s longest.The increase in piracy included attacks on vessels carrying food aid for Somalis, hindering U.N. efforts to provide relief to drought victims. Pirates also have attacked a cruise ship.