Heavily armed Somali pirates shot and wounded nine seafarers during a bloody attempt to hijack a North Korean cargo ship off Kenya on Wednesday, a maritime watchdog said.There was a very violent attack against a North Korean vessel by Somali pirates who used automatic rifles and RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), Pottengal Mukundan, director of the London based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) told AFP.
Nine crew members have been seriously injured as a result of the attack, he added.
Mukundan said Somali pirates, who have become a serious hazard for shipping in the region, attacked the ship which was heading to Mombasa.
Despite coming under heavy attack, the pirates were unable to board the ship, he said.
Mukundan said IMB had relayed news of the attack to the relevant authorities to provide assistance to the crew.
Urging seafarers to remain alert, he said pirates were shifting their attacks against ships well south of the previous areas of risk, threatening the trade route into Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
The level of violence has increased against ships. We call on the navies to continue robust action against mother ships when the mother ships are located, he said.
Somali pirates have expanded from the Gulf of Aden into the open seas of the Indian Ocean, venturing as far as the Seychelles and beyond.
Despite the increased international military presence off Somalias coastline the longest on the African continent pirates have raked in huge ransoms.
Alongside the EU, the United States and other national navies deployed warships off the Somali coast in December 2008 to protect shipping and secure maritime routes in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.