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Troubled waters (Archive) Photo: Reuters
Troubled waters (Archive) Photo: Reuters

Somali pirates assault Israeli ship

Gunmen give chase and attempt to board Zim vessel traveling 700 km from Somali coast

Published: 04.04.09, 20:39 / Israel News

Somali gunmen attacked an Israeli ship sailing 700 km off the coast of Somalia at around 10 am Saturday. The 'Africa Star' ship, belonging to Zim Shipping Services, had no Israelis on board.


Lior Hayat of the Foreign Ministry told Ynet, "We are following the incident. Since there were no Israelis on board the ship, the Foreign Ministry will not involve itself in the handling of this case."


The pirate gunmen, riding on two motorboats accompanied by a mother-ship, opened fire at the Zim ship and then attempted to board by steering close to its hull and leaping from the boats.


They were unsuccessful, however, as the ship's hull was encircled with barbed wire. No injuries were reported among the Zim crew.


After failing to board, the pirates returned to their boats and began a chase that went on for a number of hours. They were unsuccessful in reaching the vessel.


Meanwhile, Zim's offices in Haifa were alerted, and in turn contacted NATO forces in the area as well as the Foreign Ministry and Israel's navy.


NATO alerted the British-manned Pirate Reporting Center in the area, and a plane was sent to investigate. Its flight over the scene apparently stopped the chase, and the motorboats and mother-ship retreated. The Israeli ship was diverted to a sounder course.


The Zim vessel continued its journey as planned. Chairman of the shipping company, Idan Ofer, thanked the crew and captain of the boat "for their bravery and resourcefulness", as well as NATO's headquarters.


"The international community must work with Somalia to demolish this dangerous phenomenon of piracy at sea, and reinstate security in international shipping routes," he added.


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