30/08/08 (B463) Press TV. Les pirates « manquent » l’arraisonnement d’un navire japonais. Pirates fail to hijack Japanese ship

After four successful attempts, pirates failed to seize a Japanese ship off Somalia, an international maritime watchdog report says.

The attempted hijack comes just days after pirates seized four other vessels – Malaysian, Iranian, Japanese and German – in the Gulf of Aden off the Somali coast.

The Japanese-operated vessel with 20 crew started its journey from Singapore and was heading to the Middle East when the attack took place in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

Two speed boats chased and opened fire on the Japanese-operated cargo ship on Saturday, attempted to board the vessel but failed to seize it. The reason the Japanese ship managed to escape was that the captain increased speed and took evasive maneuvers, The Associated Press quoted Choong as saying.

He also said that the ship’s crew was safe and no one was injured in the hour-long chase.He added that a suspected mother ship was in the vicinity.

On Tuesday, pirates seized a Malaysian palm oil tanker with 39 crew. Two days later, they hijacked an Iranian bulk carrier with 29 crew, a Japanese-operated chemical tanker with 19 crew and a German-operated cargo ship with nine crew, all in the Gulf of Aden, a busy waterway connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

« It appears pirates are still trying to hijack ships in the location, » Choong said and added that it’s high time the United Nations and the international community take action to secure the area.

Heavily-armed pirates from Somalia have hijacked at least 30 ships this year. Spreading lawlessness, a rampant insurgency and a worsening aid crisis onshore look set to drive that number higher.

Somalia’s 3,300 km (2,060 mile) coastline is considered one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of water, and the world’s piracy hotspot. Thirty out of 36 attacks on ships off Somalia’s coast have occurred in the Gulf of Aden.

A total of 114 incidents were reported in the first six months of 2008, slightly less than the 126 reported in the same period in 2007.

But piracy incidents recorded in the second quarter of 2008 totalled 62, versus 52 in the first quarter.