12:00 AM, December 07, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 07, 2010

Hijacked ship heads towards Somalia

Fate of 26 Bangladeshis unknown, pirates yet to contact authorities for ransom; website report claims 547 on 23 vessels from different countries taken hostage

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The photo is from the website of European Union Naval Force-Somalia, which says the ship is Bangladesh-flagged MV Jahan Moni that has been hijacked in the Arabian Sea .

The fate of 26 abductees of the Bangladeshi ship hijacked by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea on Sunday remain uncertain, as the Bangladesh authorities could not contact them until yesterday afternoon.
The pirates did not contact any authority or make ransom demand.
MV Jahan Moni, spotted in the Arabian Sea some 1,100 nautical miles off the Somali coast, started heading for the coast at a speed of 10 nautical mile an hour at 4:00pm, said the Mercantile Marine Department of Bangladesh that is monitoring the ship via satellite.
The vessel is carrying 25 crewmembers and the wife of its chief engineer.
Brave Royal Ship Management, the operating company of the vessel, said it received a message from the ship's security cell at about 3.30pm on Sunday. The message read the ship had come under pirate attack.
The pirates now hold 23 vessels including the Bangladeshi ship and 547 hostages, says the website of European Union Naval Force. However, The Daily Star could not independently confirm the information.
"We got the same message for the second time at about 4.30pm and stayed in contact with the crew members until 5.30pm. We lost contact after that," said Meherul Karim, General Manager of Brave Royal Shipping Management.
Meherul said the pirates might demand ransom after taking the ship to the Somali coast.
The vessel carrying 43,150 tonnes of nickel was on its way to Greece from Indonesia through the Suez Canal. It anchored at the Singapore port for refuelling before heading for Greece, shipping ministry officials said.
Captain Habibur Rahman, principal officer of Mercantile Marine Department, said they were able to locate the ship via satellite every 15 minutes.
The Bangladesh government has contacted several international agencies that combat sea piracy.
Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan said, "We want to rescue the crew and the ship through negotiation with the pirates. But it might take a few days since the ship is likely to reach the African coast after four days."
He said the pirates did not demand anything until now.
"We are concerned about the security of the sailors," said Shajahan.
"Somali pirates hijacked 31 ships this year but did not kill anyone. I hope the sailors could be rescued within four days," the minister said.
Government officials are in constant touch with the family members of the abductees, he said.
The prime minister has asked the foreign ministry to contact with the authorities of the countries concerned to rescue the ship.
Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransom capturing ships in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, although the Sunday's hijack happened nearly 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) east of Somalia.

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