07/09/08 (B464) Shabelle / Un navire saoudien échappe à un arraisonnement par des pirates qui ont ouvert le feu sur lui. Saudi boat survives hijacking attempt off Somalia (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

Pirates opened fire at a Saudi cargo yacht off the coast of Somalia, but the vessel managed to survive the hijacking attempt after Yemeni coastguards rescued it, Coastguards said on Sunday.

The source said that the Coast-guard Authority, Aden Gulf Sector, has received from the Caution Center a letter read that pirates chased commercial Saudi boat while in the international waters of Gulf of Aden.

Already last week, a record four ships have been seized in this vital sea lane linking Asia and Europe in some of the world’s most dangerous waters, sparking fears piracy there could worsen.

« The pirates fired from these boats as they tried to board the ship, » said Yemeni coast guard official, but added that the boat managed to survive the attempted hijacking.

He added that the pirates fled.

No casualties were reported, but the vessel was slightly damaged due to bullet holes, he said.

Piracy is rife off Somalia, which has been mired in anarchy since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991. Maritime officials say at least 30 ships have been hijacked off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation so far this year.

Most of them brought ransoms of at least $10,000, and in some cases much more. A lot of that money is now in the hands of pirates in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

Late on Thursday, pirates seized a German cargo ship with nine crew on board. Just hours before that, Somali pirates had hijacked an Iranian bulk carrier and a Japanese-operated tanker. A day before, they seized a palm oil tanker, Bunga Melati Dua, belonging to Malaysian national carrier MISC.