Pirates seize 2 ships off Kenya

AP News
Posted: Oct 24, 2010 2:10 PM
Pirates seize 2 ships off Kenya

Somali pirates seized a German freight ship off the coast of Kenya on Sunday _ the second commercial vessel to be captured in the region in as many days, officials said.

The pirates took control of the German freight ship Beluga Fortune about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) east of Mombasa, Kenya, a spokesman for the German army said on condition of anonymity, in keeping with military regulations.

The German shipping company Beluga-Reederei, which owns the vessel, said Sunday night that Somali pirates were behind the attack and that the ship was on its way from the United Arab Emirates to South Africa.

Verena Beckhusen, a spokeswoman for the Bremen-based company, declined to give further details regarding the crew or the cargo, but the German news agency dapd said the vessel was carrying at least two German citizens.

On Saturday night, pirates seized a liquefied gas tanker 105 miles (165 kilometers) off the coast of Kenya in the Somali Basin, said officials in Singapore, where the ship is registered.

The MV York was traveling from Mombasa to Mahe in the Seychelles with 17 crew when pirates commandeered it, the Singapore Maritime and Port Authority said in a statement.

The authority said Sunday it was working with the ship's owner, York Maritime Co., and government agencies to recover the ship.

A Turkish warship sent a helicopter to investigate the attack, and its crew members saw pirates armed with weapons aboard the MV York, the European Union Naval Force said Sunday.

The 5,076-ton MV York had one German, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos aboard, the EU force said in a statement.

Somali pirates have long been active in the region, and they currently are holding 19 vessels with 428 hostages, according to the EU Naval Force.

Somalia has lacked a fully functioning government since 1991, which makes it difficult to prosecute suspected Somali pirates. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently said options under consideration to do that more effectively include creating a special international court.

But some countries have gone ahead with their own court cases.

In Yemen, 13 Somali men accused of stealing boats off the country's coast pleaded not guilty Saturday to piracy. The Yemeni prosecution said the men were arrested in May on the shores of al-Mahra in eastern Yemen. It said their ship was carrying weapons, explosives and ladders.

The trial, being held in the eastern province of Hadramawt, was postponed to Nov. 6 to give the suspects a chance to secure a lawyer.


Associated Press Writer Ahmed Al-Haj contributed to this story from Sana'a, Yemen.