Muscat: Omani naval authorities have foiled an attempt by Somali pirates to hijack a Liberian flagged vessel some 34 nautical miles southwest of the country's main container transshipment hub at Salalah.
The incident was reported on Friday, and comes less than two weeks after pirates seized a chemical tanker barely two nautical miles from the same container port in one of the most audacious attacks so close to the Omani coast.
Following that successful seizure, Oman stepped up naval patrols off its southern and southeastern seaboard, which has witnessed a surge in pirate activity in recent months.
In an official statement issued to local media, the Royal Oman Police (ROP) said authorities rushed to the aid of the Liberian-flagged merchant ship on Friday when it came under attack. While the Royal Air Force of Oman scrambled a surveillance aircraft to the area, a Coast Guard vessel also sped to the site, eventually prompting the pirates to flee.
Meanwhile, in another incident also reported over the weekend, an Omani naval force regained control of a hijacked dhow that had earlier been seized off the Somali coast.
According to a security official, a patrolling warship of the Royal Navy of Oman spotted the commandeered dhow in international waters south of Salalah. Warning shots were fired, upon which the alleged pirates ditched their weapons into the sea.
Ten Somali nationals were arrested and handed over the ROP for prosecution. The dhow's 11 Asian sailors, who were held prisoner by the pirates, were freed, the statement added.