Eyewitness: Somali Pirates Tried to Seize Plane, Passengers
Eyewitness: Somali Pirates Tried to Seize Plane, Passengers

For the second day in a row, Somali pirates have attacked a ship in the northern Indian Ocean, nearly halfway between Somalia and India.

International piracy monitors say a Danish-flagged container ship, the MV Nele Maersk, came under attack Tuesday more than 1,800 kilometers east of Mogadishu.

The reports say pirates opened fire with assault rifles but the ship increased speed and escaped.  No casualties were reported.

On Monday, Somali pirates attempted to hijack a crude oil tanker, the BW Lion, in the same area.

The pirates have gradually extended their reach using so-called mother ships, from which they launch small skiffs to carry out attacks and hijackings.

The European Union's anti-piracy force reports that Somali pirates have also attacked a container ship, the MV Felicitas Rickmers, east of Tanzania and west of the Seychelles islands.  It says the crew took evasive maneuvers and escaped.

In another development, Somali pirates have confirmed hijacking a ship that was headed to Somalia from the United Arab Emirates.

Pirates and the ship's owner have denied media reports from Monday that the ship, the al-Mizan, was carrying weapons.

The owner, Mohammed Iqbal, told VOA that the ship has 18 crew members on board -- 15 Indians, two Pakistanis, and one Somali.

Somali pirates are now holding at least 11 ships with more than 200 crew members in all.

Last year, and for much of this year, most of the pirates' attacks took place in the Gulf of Aden, north of Somalia.  But in recent weeks, the pirates have concentrated their efforts in the Indian Ocean.  

The vast area is much harder for foreign naval patrols stationed off Somalia to cover, although the patrols have stopped some pirate attacks in progress.