Abdulahi Ahmed Ali, district commissioner for the pirate-hub region of Hobyo, told local press the “Al Kauser” ship had been held off the Indian Ocean coast near Yemen after the hijacking on March 31.
“We have the boat and two of the crew members but eight other members of the crew are still missing because the pirates took them off the boat,” the commissioner said.
Their abductors are believed to be holding them near Hobyo.
Somali security forces exchanged fire with the hijackers who fled to the shore aboard a fast boat, taking eight of their hostages with them, Ali said.
The Al Kauser was the third vessel seized by pirates in less than a month off the coast of Somalia, with experts warning that ships have lowered their guard in the five years since the height of the piracy crisis.
– Pirate ‘mother ship’ –
Somali pirates began staging attacks in 2005, seriously disrupting a major international shipping route and costing the global economy billions of dollars.
At the peak of the piracy crisis in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 boats were held.
Though anti-piracy measures ended attacks on commercial vessels, fishing boats have continued to face attacks sporadically.
However on March 13, pirates seized the Aris 13 oil tanker and eight Sri Lankan hostages in the first attack on a large merchant vessel by Somali pirates since 2012.
While some hostages have been held for as long as five years, the pirates released the Aris 13 and its crew just four days after it was seized.
A week later a local cargo dhow was hijacked and taken out to sea, with the Oceans Beyond Piracy NGO warning it may be used as a “mother ship” for further attacks against larger vessels.