By Hamsa Omar
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Somali pirates hijacked a merchant ship laden with cement in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Oman, officials said.
The Panama-registered MV Awail was rented by Barwaqo, a Somali trading company, and was en route to Bosasso from Oman, Abdi Weli Abdi Rahman, deputy minister of harbor and mineral resources for the semi-autonomous Puntland region in northern Somalia, said by phone today.
``The ship was seized by pirates last night,'' Rahman said.
Attacks by pirates off Somalia have surged this year and are running at close to one a day. Commercial shippers have warned they may start routing cargo around Africa, passing the added fuel and time costs on to clients.
The United Nations Security Council voted 15 to zero earlier this month to adopt a resolution, drafted by France, that seeks deployment to the area of naval vessels and military aircraft to use ``the necessary means, in conformity with international law'' to engage pirates.
Meanwhile, the pirates who seized a Ukranian ship carrying a cargo of battle tanks in the Gulf of Aden last month say they won't hijack aid ships or merchant vessels bringing goods to Somalia.
``We have had nothing to do with the hijacking of such vessels and have been preventing other pirates from seizing such ships,'' Sugale Ali Omar, spokesman for the group, said by satellite phone today.
---Editors: Athol Bolleurs, John Deane.
To contact the reporter on this story: Hamsa Omar in Mogadishu via Johannesburg at email@example.com.
Last Updated: October 10, 2008 06:15 EDT