Somali Pirates Hijack Panama-Flagged Ship Off Puntland

GAROWE (Somaliguardian) – Somali pirates have hijacked a Panama-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia, reports say, the first such hijacking in region in three years.

The ship traveling from the United Arab Emirates sent a distressing signal on Wednesday evening. Puntland governor of Gardafu region Muse Salah speaking to Reuters said the ship appeared to develop mechanical problems before it was approached by pirates.

It was attacked by six pirates on Wednesday night, he said, adding that the number and nationality of the crew were not immediately clear but discussion was in progress to free them.

The ship was en-route from Dubai to the Somali capital, Mogadishu and was then diverted towards the coast of Gardafu in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Its tracking system has reportedly been switched off. Puntland government officials say there are ongoing efforts aimed to release the ship from the hands of pirates.

Piracy was rampant off the Somali coast until increased patrols by European naval forces contained the problem in the last few years.

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