Monday, March 26, 2012
An Iranian bulk
carrier of Brazilian sugar was hijacked in the eastern Indian Ocean
early on Monday with 23 crew on board, international shipping monitors
The Eglantine, which according
to Reuters shipping data loaded in Rio de Janeiro in late February, was
hijacked off India's southwest coast by suspected Somali pirates, NATO's
counter-piracy mission said.
pirate gangs are making millions of dollars in ransoms and are able to
stay out at sea for long periods using captured merchant vessels as
mother ships. The shipping security crisis costs world trade billions of
dollars each year.
Attacks as far
away from Somalia as Monday's hijacking are rare. Although NATO, EU and
Iranian naval forces are trying to protect merchant shipping, the Indian
Ocean is too big for them to effectively patrol all of it.
"It is very far east from Somalia," a spokeswoman for the NATO Shipping Centre said.
The U.S. has identified the vessel as being operated by Iranian government shipping companies blacklisted by Washington.
Iran is expected to import 1.6 million tonnes of sugar in 2011-12, according to the International Sugar Organization.
Western sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to pay for basic
foods through the global banking system, even though foodstuffs are not
targeted by the sanctions.
vessel was carrying over 63,000 tonnes of cargo when it left Brazil, the
world's biggest sugar exporter, according to shipping data.