A merchant ship has reportedly been hijacked off the northeastern coast of Somalia, marking the first successful hijack by Somali pirates since 2017.
The Panama-flagged ship was en route from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu port when it appeared to develop mechanical problems, Reuters reports
The vessel, reported by Dryad Global to be the 112-meter tanker Aegean II, was said to be attacked by six pirates on Wednesday night. The number and nationality of the crew was unclear but discussions were under way to free them, Musse Salah, the governor of Gardafu region in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland, told Reuters.
The hijacking is the first by Somali pirates since 2017 when a total of 28 crew were taken hostage and subsequently released during separate attacks on a small bunkering tanker and a traditional dhow in Somali territorial waters. Prior to 2017, no merchant ship had been hijacked by Somali pirates since May 2012.
In 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau says, and held hundreds of hostages.
Attacks later sharply subsided, mainly because shipping firms implemented better security protocols, including posting look-outs, sailing further away from Somalia, and hiring private security. International warships operating as part of a coalition also helped to drive down the number of attacks.