Pirates seize tourist yacht near Seychelles, troops deployed

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

According to officials, Somali pirates have seized a luxury boat named the Ocean Explorer off the coast of the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Seven Seychellois crew members are believed to be on board. The boat is thought to be headed for Somalia.

Patrick Pillay, the Foreign Affairs Minister, said that the Seychelles government had contacted local naval forces who had pledged to "track down the boat."

"The Indian Ocean Explorer has been seized by pirates about 600 miles west of the capital. What I've been told is they believe this has been taken to the Somali coast," said Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, the British High Commissioner the Seychelles.

"As far as we know there were no foreign nationals on board. The vast majority of tourists come to the inner island resorts but a small number are more intrepid and visit the outer islands. I believe this yacht was used for visiting Aldabra," she said.

This is not the first time Somali pirates have frequented the area: the Seychelles police chief stated that pirates held hostage three Seychellois sailors after their catamaran was hijacked in February.

Somali pirates, usually looking for a ransom, attacked over 130 merchant ships in the area in 2008. The International Maritime Bureau reports that number of attacks has increased by over 200% since 2007.


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