Hijacked Mozambican Fishing Vessel Heading to Somalia

Published on Tuesday 11th January 2011

The hijacked Mozambican fishing boat, the "Vega 5", seems to be heading towards a port in Somalia, but there has still been no word, either from the 24 member crew or from the pirates who seized the ship.

Cited in Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the Beira maritime administrator, Martinho Mafumo, said he assumed the main reason for the hijack was to demand a ransom.

The whole history of Somali piracy, he argued, showed that the pirates are not particularly interest in the boats they capture, or in their cargo - they know that the real money is made by demanding ransom for the crew members they have kidnapped.

Mafumo added that the pirates probably know that Mozambique is a poor country, quite unable to pay a king's ransom for the 19 Mozambican crew members. But their trump card is that there two Spaniards aboard, including the captain, Alfonso Rey Echeverri. The three other members of the crew are Indonesians.

According to the Spanish news agency EFE, the Spanish Foreign Ministry is coordinating efforts to seek the release of the crew, and has been in contact with the governments of Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya.

Deputy Fishing Minister Gabriel Muthisse, spokesperson for the commission set up by the Mozambican government to follow the situation, said that the hypothesis of negotiating with the pirates has not yet been raised.

It is known that over the weekend the "Vega 5" was navigating in heavy seas as it heading towards the Somali coast. There are fears, expressed in the Spanish media, that it is running out of both fuel and food.

Light aircraft mobilized by the Spanish-Mozambican joint venture Pescamar, which operates the Vega 5, have spotted with Echeverri on the bridge. No other crew members could be seen, however, and it is believed that the pirates are keeping them locked up below decks.



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