Somali pirates shoot at Leopard tanker

Suspected Somali pirates have exchanged fire with an armed security team onboard a Leopard Tankers ship in what is believed to be the first incident in the region this year.

Shots were fired from pirates in three skiffs at the 50,000-dwt Leopard Sun (built 2013) last night 165 nautical miles from the Somalian town of Hobyo.

A security team onboard the tanker, owned by the Vitol and Grindrod joint-venture, shot back and the ship is now reported to be safe.

Piracy experts say this is the first reported incident off the Somali coast since last November, when a group of pirates was arrested and taken to the Seychelles.

They explain that a night-time attack is rare and investigations are now underway to better understand the level of threat posed by the group.

It comes at a time when the seas off Somali are becoming calmer after the monsoon season, making conditions easier for would be pirates.

The Leopard Sun was en route from Bahrain to Cape Town when the incident occurred.