MOGADISHU: Somali security forces rescued a hijacked Indian cargo dhow on Monday, but pirates took the 11-member crew with them when they fled to land, authorities said.

The Al Kausar vessel was seized earlier this month, part of a sudden string of attacks by Somali pirates after years without a reported incident.

“We attacked the Indian ship and rescued it but the pirates took away the 11 crew. We rescued two crew and they went with nine crew into the hilly areas between El Hur and Hardheere,” Mohamed Hashi Arabey, vice president of Galmudug state, told Reuters.

Galmudug is a federal state within the Horn of Africa country that operates its own security forces.

The two crew were in a car that the pirates had to abandon after they were chased, Galmudug’s vice president said.

Pirates told Reuters they would keep the crew to use as bargaining chips for the freedom of pirates jailed in India.

“We encouraged our friends to run away with the crew if they are attacked so that they exchange for the release of 117 pirates jailed in India,” pirate Saiid said. “We are ready to reinforce our friends so that Galmudug forces do not rescue the nine crew of the Indian ship.” Somali pirate attacks peaked with 237 in 2012 but then declined steeply after ship owners improved security measures and international naval forces stepped up patrols.

But this month has seen a new rash of attacks, with two ships captured and a third rescued by Indian and Chinese forces after the crew radioed for help and locked themselves in a safe room.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2017

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