- Armed pirates in two small vessels have attacked a Japanese cargo ship off the coast of Somalia on Sunday, a Japanese Transportation Ministry official has confirmed.
The official said none of the 18 crew members aboard, who are all the Philippine nationals, were wounded when pirates in two boats fired on the ship hitting the windows and ceiling of the steering room.
According to the official, the ship carrying cargoes of cars heading to Mombasa, a seaport in Southeastern Kenya, got clear of the pirates some 40 minutes after the launch of the attack, saying despite the damage, the ship could still operate and is currently sailing towards a safer area.
The attack came just weeks after the Japanese government ordered two naval vessels to join international patrols aimed at curbing pirate attacks off Somalia.
The company said in a statement that the ship was a Cayman Islands-flagged cargo ship transporting used cars from the United Arab Emirates to Kenya.
Pirating off Somalia has increase over the past years as fishermen from Somalia saw ships hijackings as lucrative business with demands for ransoms for the release of ships and hostages.
In 2008, pirates attacked nearly 100 vessels and hijacked as many as 40 off Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau. In response, a number of countries have deployed ships from their navies to the region, including the United States, China and Japan, to help curb piracy in the region.
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