Fate of hijacked Dubai ship's crew members still unknown

DUBAI — The plight of 21 crew members of MV Victoria, a Dubai-based vessel that was hijacked off the coast of Mogadishu, is still unknown as the efforts to establish contact with the pirates have not been successful so far.

By Riyasbabu (Our staff reporter)

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Published: Tue 20 May 2008, 8:38 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:10 PM

“We are in touch with the Somali government. But until now, we could not establish contact with the pirates and we don't know their demands," Mohammed Ali Clay, marketing manager of Marwan Shipping Company, the agent of the hijacked vessel, told Khaleej Times yesterday.

"We are monitoring the situation. So far we do not have any leads," said Mohammed Ali.

The 21 crew members comprise 10 Indians. The rest are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kenya and Tanzania.

MV Victoria was hijacked early morning on Saturday while it was sailing 40 nautical miles off the coast of Somalian capital Mogadishu. The vessel was carrying 4,000 tonnes of sugar from India to Somalia when it was hijacked.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from Mombasa, Andrew Mwangura, director of the Kenyan branch of Seafarers Association, said the Jordanian flagged vessel was taken to an unknown place near Hobyo.

"We are trying to establish contact with the pirates. So far they have not demanded any ransom. We suspect that a pirate group called 'Somali Marine' is behind the hijacking," said Mwangura.

"We are concerned about the safety of the crew. In the past, the pirates had killed the crew members after hijacking ships. We are putting in all efforts to establish contact with the pirates," he said, adding he is still hopeful that an amicable settlement to release the vessel and the crew is possible.

Last month, it may be recalled, Somalian troops stormed a Dubai-flagged vessel, Al Khaleej, and rescued the crew members after a gunbattle with the pirates off the coast of Somalia's semi-autonomous northeast Puntland region.

The pirates attacked Al Khaleej while it was sailing from Mogadishu to Bassaso port carrying food items. The pirates were demanding a ransom to release the vessel but the troops managed to overpower them and take control of the vessel.

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