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SANDF mum on piracy surge

Jan 12 2011 21:52 Sapa

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Johannesburg - The SA department of defence (DoD) on Wednesday maintained silence over numerous Somali pirate attacks in Mozambican waters.

The DoD has not commented on three confirmed piracy attacks in central Mozambique and on South Africa's involvement in anti-piracy activities in the past three weeks despite repeated media enquiries.

A fishing boat owned jointly by Mozambique and Spain was pirated on New Year's Eve 340km southwest of the Comoros Islands and close to the coast of northern Mozambican province Nampula, the European Union's Naval Force confirmed.

The trawler's 24-strong crew which counts 19 Mozambicans, two Spanish and three Indonesian nationals, are still on board the ship.

Two large ships, a Liberian oil tanker and a Panamanian bulk carrier, managed to escape attacks from two skiffs carrying six people off the coast of Quelimane in central Mozambique on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Quelimane is around 1 000km north of South Africa.

Mozambique's 2 470km-coastline - the second longest in Africa - is largely unprotected against Somali pirates, who hijack and hold ships ransom for large sums of money.

A concentration of one of the largest international naval operations in history around Somalia in the Gulf of Aden has pushed pirates further south and east in the Indian Ocean.

Though South Africa has one of the strongest navies on the continent, the country is currently not involved in anti-piracy activities. This was because of "political reasons", South African naval force spokesperson Jaco Theunissen told Sapa earlier.



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