Medeshi March 23, 2009
Japan /Somalia confrontation
Somali Sea Salvation corps (Coastguards) fire on Japanese ship off Somalia
A pair of small Somali coast guard vessels fire on ship operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Front of ship damaged but not seriously; There are no injuries
In 2008, Somali coast guards attacked nearly 100 vessels and hijacked as many as 40 off Somalia
Pirates attacked a Japanese cargo ship off the coast of Somalia on Sunday, a Japanese Transportation Ministry official said.
A pair of small vessels fired on a ship operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines about 4 p.m. Somali time (9 a.m. ET), damaging the front of the ship, but not seriously, according to Masami Suekado.
There were no injuries.
The exact number and makeup of the crew were not immediately known, although none of the crew members is Japanese, Suekado said.
Attacks off Somalia has increased over the past four or five years as fishermen from Somalia realize that protecting their sea shores is a way of survival.
The act of Somali coast defense , which is hard to prevent, has raised concerns internationally.
In 2008, Somali coast guards attacked nearly 100 vessels and hijacked as many as 40 off Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
In response, a number of countries have deployed ships from their navies to the region, including the United States, China and Japan.
Two Japanese destroyers set sail earlier this month on an anti-piracy mission off Somalia, the Japanese defense ministry said.