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Ordeal of hijacked sailors may end soon

Published : Wednesday, 3 April, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 267

This is a sigh of relief that the ordeal of our sailors held hostages by the Somali pirates for over last 20 days is hoped to come to an end soon.  Bangladeshi-flagged ship, MV Abdullah was hijacked on March 12 when it was carrying 58,000 tonnes of coal for UAE.

The 23 crew members who were on board of the ship during the hijacking are expected to be released within the next few days. This has been confirmed following fruitful negotiations between the third party hired by the owner of MV Abdullah, Kabir Steel and Re-rolling Mills (KSRM) Group and Somali pirates.  

According to a report published in this daily on Tuesday, our seafarers are most likely to be freed before Shab-e- Qadar that takes place at the end of the holy month of Ramadan. This means if everything goes as planned, these sailors would be able to celebrate the Eid-ul-Fitr with their family members.      

This is no doubt that the KSRM Group in cooperation with the government has made commendable efforts to free the hijacked sailors as early as possible. KSRM Group has already completed all kinds of necessary preparations to receive the sailors with the replacement of a new team of 23 crew members.

However, the hijacked vessel is currently anchored 1.5 nautical miles from the Jifal coast in the Nugal region of Somali Puntland. A warship of the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), Operation ATALANTA, has been constantly keeping an eye on the MV Abdullah.

Earlier, the European Maritime Forces and a warship from the Indian Navy sought permission on March 16 to launch a rescue operation for the crew members soon after pirates hijacked MV Abdullah. But Bangladesh did not allow any armed intervention fearing the danger of lives of our sailors.   

This was praiseworthy that Bangladesh had given top priority to the lives of crew members. This was evidenced when the secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs maritime unit said that conducting a military operation always carried the risk of casualties on board.

Another core issue that has come to the fore again after the MV Abdullah incident is whether our commercial ships have been navigating following international safety measures.

In the case of MV Abdullah, there was a lack of safety measures such as absence of armed gunmen and razor fences, though the ship was not passing through the high risk zones on the Somali coast. Since pirate attacks have been frequent in the Gulf of Aden, our commercial ships should be equipped with adequate safety measures.

We are hopeful that the seafarers of the MV Abdullah would return home safe. We also urge owners of our commercial ships to learn the lesson from this hijacking incident and accordingly take precautionary measures for the safety of their vessels in the future.

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