Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Somali pirates free hijacked Pakistani 'mother ship'


A Pakistani fishing vessel used by Somali pirates to hijack a UK-owned car-transporting ship has been freed in the Indian Ocean.

The Shahbaig - also known as the Shazaib - was used as a "mother ship" from which smaller boats were launched to capture the UK-owned Asian Glory.

It was abandoned 1,000 miles (1,600kms) north of the Seychelles and then boarded by the EU's naval force.

The Asian Glory is still being held along with at least 11 other ships.

The EU Navfor protection force said in a statement: "The Shahbaig was boarded by crew from FS Surcouf and found all crew members to be in good health except for one member whose leg was broken."

Upsurge in piracy

Pirates had seized the Shahbaig and its 29-strong crew in early December, 370 miles (595kms) east of Socotra, an island off the Horn of Africa.

Observers say so-called "mother ships", or larger vessels, are often used by the pirates to tow and launch their smaller speedboats, and to resupply them.

But this is one of the first known instances of one vessel being hijacked and then used to hijack another.

The Asian Glory was the more valuable ship, carrying 2,300 vehicles.

It was en route from Singapore to Saudi Arabia with a crew of 25 - 10 Ukrainians, eight Bulgarians, five Indians and two Romanians.

It was seized 620 miles (1,000km) off Somalia's coast.

The waters around Somalia are among the most dangerous in the world.

Correspondents say the upsurge in piracy in the region is a consequence of the failure to find a solution to Somalia's continuing political disarray.

It has not had a functioning national government for almost 20 years.

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The Scotsman Hijacked Pakistani fishing boat rescued by EU naval force - 18 hrs ago
Sydney Morning Herald Somali pirates free Pakistan ship - 32 hrs ago Pirates abandon ship, crew - 32 hrs ago
Reuters EU navy rescues Pakistan ship left by Somali pirates - 33 hrs ago

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