Somalia security forces have rescued an Indian cargo ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates on April 1 but nine members of the 11-crew are missing, a regional maritime official said on Tuesday.

John Steed, the regional manager of not for profit group, Oceans Beyond Piracy said the hostages are believed to be being held between the vicinity of Hobyo and Haradhere in central Somalia. “The Indian ship was released by Somalia security forces on Monday night but nine of the 11 crew members are missing having been taken ashore by the pirates. The vessel is sailing away,” Steed told Xinhua by telephone. The pirating of the Indian dhow came after the fuel tanker, Aris 13, was held for four days by armed pirates. The Indian ship, Al Kausar was one of three foreign vessels to be hijacked after a five-year lull. “We haven’t established where the hostages were taken,” said Steed, noting that Somali pirates are holding 17 hostages from Iran and India. “The pirates are holding 17 hostages at the moment. Eight are Iranians while 9 are Indians,” Steed said, adding that efforts are underway to secure their release.

Al Kausar was chartered by a Somali businessman and was carrying commercial goods. The vessel which was en route from Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Bosasso in Somalia was hijacked in the vicinity of Socotra (Island). The release of the Indian vessel comes after sailors from Indian and Chinese Navies on Sunday freed a Tuvalu-registered vessel which had been boarded by pirates. The vessel had 19 crew members. Somali pirates tend to be well armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and sometimes use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast. Maritime experts said lack of economic opportunities and the prevalence of illegal fishing are pushing more Somalis to turn to piracy — partly as a form of protest and partly because they see no other options.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh