Somali media has reported that a notorious Somali pirate leader is missing after an attempt last Saturday to hijack a cargo ship.
Abdikarim Salah “Aw Koombe” and two other pirates were last seen on board a Lebanese-registered cargo ship, OS 35, near Socotra Island as they attempted to force the crew to steer the vessel towards the Somali coast.
Sources say two pirates who had remained in the attacking ship escaped and reached land. They told residents of the Red Sea town of Alula that Aw Koombe and two other pirates had been left on the cargo ship.
They believe the three might have been captured by the Chinese navy officers who rescued the crew on Saturday.
The Chinese navy, part of an international flotilla, was not immediately available to comment, but internal information shared between international maritime forces off the coast of Somalia indicated that at least three pirates were arrested during the operation.
The authorities believe that Aw Koombe was involved in the hijacking of at least 10 ships.
Separately, Somali pirates are still holding nine Indian sailors, whom they moved to the land after abandoning the boat, Al Kausar, following an operation by Somali regional security forces off the coast of Hobyo port town on Monday night.
The sailors are being held in Qararrow village.
Somali security rescued some of the crew members.
Mombasa-based maritime expert Andrew Mwangura has said the resurgence of piracy off the Somalia coast may be as a result of local officials in the war-torn nation allowing foreign fishing vessels into Somali waters.
“Permits have been issued to foreign vessels to fish in Somali waters,” he said.
There have been two major pirate attacks off the Somalia coast this year.
Mr Mwangura added that local Somali fishermen have complained that the foreign fishing vessels cut their nets and run down small boats.
“Although Somali piracy has been reduced by a combined multi-national naval presence, there are occasional attacks on ships, and the pirates still hold some other kidnap victims,” he said.
He named the pirate hot spots as the waters off Southern Red Sea/Bab el Mandeb, Gulf of Aden including Yemen, and the northern Somali coast, Arabian Sea/off Oman, Gulf of Oman, and the eastern and southern Somali coast.