Malaysia stops its ships entering Gulf of Aden

Pirates from Somalia have hijacked at least 30 ships in the area so far this year, making the waters off the Horn of Africa nation the most dangerous in the world.

Malaysia stops its ships entering Gulf of Aden

Malaysia's national shipping line MISC stopped its ships from entering the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday after two of its vessels were hijacked in the piracy-prone waters.

Pirates from Somalia have hijacked at least 30 ships in the area so far this year, making the waters off the Horn of Africa nation the most dangerous in the world.

They included two MISC ships seized on Aug. 19 and Aug. 29.

"MISC has with immediate effect put a halt on all its vessels ... entering the Gulf of Aden until additional security measures by MISC are in place to enhance the safety of its vessels and crew," MISC said in a statement.

MISC, part of state energy firm Petronas, has more than 100 ships.

MISC said negotiations were continuing for the safe release of the crew of Bunga Melati Dua, which had 29 Malaysians and 10 Filipinos on board when it was seized on Aug 19.

But the firm has yet to establish communications with Bunga Melati 5, which was hijacked on Aug. 29, it said. The ship had 36 Malaysians and five Filipinos on board.

A Somali government official said on Sunday Somali pirates were taking Bunga Melati 5 to their coastal base, where gunmen are already holding at least nine vessels for ransom.

The Bunga Melati 5 was carrying 30,000 tonnes of petrochemicals to Singapore from Saudi Arabia when it was seized.

Lawlessness is spreading fast onshore as Somalia collapses into the worst fighting for two nearly decades. That is fuelling a wave of piracy that increasingly threatens vessels using the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's most important waterways.

Nearly 20,000 ships pass through the Gulf of Aden each year, heading to and from the Suez Canal.

Two weeks ago, Somali gunmen seized a record four ships in 48 hours, and are now holding about 130 crew hostage.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Eylül 2008, 12:05
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