DUBAI/ MUMBAI: Somali pirates hijacked a tanker managed by an Indian firm and with 21 Indian sailors on board on Saturday from an Omani port, India's government shipping agency and a Gulf shipping source said, the second such incident in the Gulf Arab state's waters since January.
The Directorate General of Shipping said the Fairchem Bogey, a chemical-oil tanker managed by Mumbai-based Anglo-Eastern Ship Management, was hijacked while anchored in Salalah port, and the Salalah-based shipping source said the vessel was being loaded with methanol when it was seized.
The port's operator, APM Terminals, however, said pirates boarded the vessel while it was two miles off the coast of Oman, awaiting a berth and commandeered it towards Somalia.
Tom Boyd, director of external communications at APM Terminals, told Reuters there were no reported injuries or deaths among the crew, adding that the Omani government was negotiating with the pirates.
APM Terminals has a 30 percent share in Salalah port and operates it for the government.
"The Omani authorities are in discussion with the pirates. Government leaders have met this morning at the palace of the Sultan of Oman. At 8.28 a.m. the vessel sailed in the direction of Somalia," Boyd said.
Oman lies at the mouth of the Gulf, a strategic, heavily patrolled waterway which channels a bulk of the world's crude shipments.
Somali pirates behind similar vessel hijackings usually operate in Indian Ocean waters, but in January, a 20,586-tonne Algerian-flagged bulk carrier was seized about 150 miles southeast of Salalah.
The ship, with 27 crew from Algeria, Ukraine and the Philippines, was heading to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from Salalah with a cargo of clinker.