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Cruise ship off Masirah Island approached by suspected pirates

Muscat - 

A cruise ship, approximately 15 nautical miles off Masirah Island, was aggressively approached by two skiffs suspected of belonging to Somali pirates on November 23. The skiffs moved away only when the embarked private security team fired warning flares at the craft.

Reports issued by multinational anti-piracy forces operating in the region state that the two white skiffs, a favoured attack craft used by Somali pirates, approached the unnamed cruise ship on Friday afternoon “in an aggressive manner”. The skiffs were equipped with a large outboard engine and each reportedly contained four persons on board.

According to a report by the Oceanus Live monitoring centre, the embarked security team fired at least two flares at the first skiff, causing it to change direction, away from the vessel. A third flare was fired at the second skiff, resulting in both aborting their approach. One dhow was seen in the vicinity of the incident.

“The source of the report is a user of our service. I know the source had reported the incident to one of the main counter-piracy reporting authorities, and it was also passed to the International Maritime Bureau. Whether they chose to report or act on the information is a matter for them to answer,” said an official at Oceanus Live.

When contacted, both the UK Maritime Trade Organisation (Horn of Africa) and the EU Navfor anti-piracy mission to the region said they were unaware of the incident. At the time of going to press the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre had not listed the incident.

The NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) continues to warn commercial and merchant traffic passing through waters at risk of piracy that local fishermen could be mistaken for Somali pirates when they approach vessels to maximise fishing opportunities or safeguard fishing nets.

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