25 April 2010

Somali pirates seize Liberian vessel

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Somali pirates have seized a Liberian-owned cargo ship with 21 Filipino crew members on board in the Gulf of Aden.

According to the European Union's anti-piracy force, the 47,183-ton Panamanian-flagged vessel was seized by four Somali pirates carrying AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade, about 200 miles (300 kilometers) outside the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) patrolled by the anti-piracy naval force.

At the time of the attack, the cargo ship was heading west from Ruwais, UAE, making for the eastern rendezvous point of the IRTC for onward transit through the Suez Canal, a Press TV correspondent reported late on Wednesday.

The vessel is owned by Middleburg Properties Ltd, Liberia, and operated by the Greek company Samartzis Maritime Enterprises.

The pirate attack comes only a day after the EU naval force reported that suspected Somali pirates had hijacked three Thai fishing vessels with at least 77 crew members on board in the Indian Ocean.

Dozens of multinational warships are currently patrolling Somali waters under a UN mandate to deter pirate attacks.

According to a regional maritime watchdog group, Ecoterra International, some 23 ships and over 360 crew members are currently held by Somali pirates who demand ransoms for their release. 

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