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Pirates seize cargo ship off Somalia; crew retakes second ship

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Panama-flagged ship captured by pirates off Somalia
  • Person seen on board with RPG
  • Crew of Libyan-owned ship retakes control from pirates
  • Some pirates believed killed
  • Somalia
  • Pirates

(CNN) -- A Panama-flagged cargo ship was hijacked by pirates early Wednesday off the coast of Somalia, the European Union Naval Force said in a statement.

"In the early hours of 2 June it was reported by the owner of the MV QSM Dubai that a group of armed pirates had boarded the ship and taken control," EU NAVFOR said.

The USS Cole reported that it had seen a person on board the ship with a rocket-propelled grenade, the statement said. A coalition patrol aircraft was sent to investigate and reported the ship had been hijacked.

The QSM Dubai has a crew of 24, comprised of Egyptian, Pakistan, Bangladeshi and Ghanaian nationals, EU NAVFOR said. It was sailing from Brazil when the hijacking occurred.

Meanwhile, a hijacked Libyan-owned merchant vessel MV RIM reported that its crew successfully retook control of the ship from pirates, although one crew member was seriously injured during the incident, EU NAVFOR said in a second statement. The incident took place southeast of Garacad, off Somalia's northern coastline. Some pirates are believed to have been killed.

The closest EU NAVFOR warship, the SPS Victoria, was asked to meet the MV RIM to provide medical assistance, and launched its helicopter immediately.

"Confusing reports that the ship had been pirated again came prior to the helicopter reaching the scene of the incident," EU NAVFOR said. Authorities were able to establish that the crew was in control of the vessel, but pirates in the area were attempting to impede the EU NAVFOR operation by using another hijacked vessel, the MV Voc Daisy. When approached by the helicopter, however, the MV Voc Daisy changed course and no warning shots were fired.

The Gulf of Aden and other areas off the coast of Somalia have seen frequent pirate activity.