Gunmen fire shots at merchant vessel off Hanish Islands

At least 15 pirates fire shots upon a cable laying vessel in the Red Sea

A cable laying vessel reported that 16 heavily armed pirates on board two skiffs opened fire on their vessel west of Jazirat al Hanish al Kabir island in the Red Sea. The assailants were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 assault rifles when they targeted the cable ship, which was travelling at 0.5 knots. The embarked armed security team fired warning shots at the gunmen before the skiffs moved away. The merchant vessel reported that it was safe.

The incident underscores the continued threat of attacks targeting merchant vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. There have been several reports of suspicious activity in the region in 2016, including sightings of ladders and weapons on board vessels that indicate the continued presence of violent criminal groups in the High Risk Area. Reported incidents of piracy since early 2014 have clustered around the Gulf of Aden and Southern Red Sea, suggesting that the threat originates in Yemen, although the identity of the attackers remains unclear.