Somali pirates have hijacked a Chinese cargo ship with 25 crew on board, the EU’s anti-piracy naval mission says.

The De Xin Hai, which was transporting coal, was seized early on Monday in the Indian Ocean, about 1,100km (700 miles) east of the Somali coast.PIRATES

The hijacking is believed to have been the first time a ship has been seized between the Seychelles and Maldives.

It is also the first successful attack on a Chinese vessel since the country deployed three warships to the region.

John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Navfor Maritime Patrol, said one of its aircraft had located the vessel after Monday’s attack.

“The aircraft spotted at least four pirates on the deck and the vessel is towing two skiffs. It was last reported heading west towards the Somali coast,” he said.

Later, one of the pirates, Hassan, told Reuters news agency that the hijacked ship would be sailed to either Haradheere or Hobyo.

The ship, which is owned by the Qingdao Ocean Shipping Company, was on its way from South Africa to India when it was captured.

Monday’s hijacking brings to six the total number of vessels currently in the hands of Somali pirates.

Joel Morgan, the Seychelles’ minister of state for piracy, said maritime traffic in the area had dropped by a third recently due to the threat.



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