BY CALVIN ONSARIGO
SHIPPING experts have warned of an increase in piracy after five unsuccessful attacks in the Indian Ocean were reported this month alone.
On Sunday, a Danish-owned oil tanker, Torm Kansas, came under attack while en route to South Africa from India but managed to fend off the suspected Somali pirates off the Somali coast.
The heavily armed pirates approached the tanker in a skiff and opened fire. The tanker was from Sikka, India and was transporting 35,000 tonnes of oil products to Mossel Bay, South Africa.
Seafarers Union of Kenya secretary general Andrew Mwangura said: ‚ÄúMilitary sources say that the ship‚Äôs Indian master, his crew and the employed armed guards defended the ship forcing the pirates to retreat.‚Äù
Mwangura said all the crew members are reported to be safe. He said the attack comes barely five days after a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean.
On November 6, five suspected pirates, armed with automatic weapons, fired at the chemical tanker about 460 miles off Mogadishu. An armed security team onboard repelled the attack. No injuries to the crew were reported.
Nine suspected pirates were arrested on suspicion of trying to hijack a Danish-flagged refined oil and chemical carrier in the Indian Ocean on November 11.
The nine suspected Somalia nationals are being held aboard a Danish naval ship, which is part of Nato forces patrolling at sea, and are due to be handed over to the authorities for trial.
Kenya‚Äôs entry into Somalia to fight al Shabaab militants in 2011 has helped reduce ransom demands on captured ships by Somalia pirates.
The incidents have affected the shipping sector, which has seen a rise of cost of insurance as shippers take extra covers for war risk, kidnap and ransom in addition to conventional underwriting of cargo and hull.
‚ÄúSomali pirates are holding two vessels with 15 crew members for ransom, as well as 49 seafarers captive on land, including 37 held for over two years,‚Äù Mwangura. said
The United Nations last month said there had been 17 attacks originating in Somalia on ships in the first nine months of 2013, compared to 99 in the same period last year.