A British couple kidnapped by pirates off Somalia has been moved to a hijacked Spanish ship that pirates have stocked with more supplies and armed men, a pirate source said Friday.
The Chandlers set off from the Seychelles on October 21 bound for Tanzania, according to their blog. A distress beacon was activated on October 23, according to naval officials. Britain’s Foreign Office said it has been in close contact with the couple’s family. Pirates have been very active off the east coast of Africa in the past several years, operating out of lawless Somalia. Two vessels were attacked the day after the Chandlers set sail. One of them — a cargo ship — was successfully boarded and seized off the Seychelles, while the other fought off its attackers near the Kenyan coast. Thursday, pirates attacked and boarded a Thai-flagged fishing vessel about 200 miles north of the Seychelles, according to the European Union Naval Force. Attacks in the region have significantly increased this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crimes. But successful attacks have gone down as a result of a strong presence of international monitors. The first nine months of this year has seen more pirate attacks than all of last year, the bureau reported October 21. From January 1 until September 30, pirates worldwide mounted 306 attacks, compared with 293 in all of 2008, it said. More than half of this year’s attacks were carried out by suspected Somali pirates off the east coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, a major shipping route between Yemen and Somalia. Out of those attacks, Somali pirates successfully hijacked 32 vessels and took 533 hostages. Eight people were wounded, four were killed and one is missing, the bureau said.