Pirates seize Iranian, Japanese vessels off Somalia

The hijackings came after a Malaysian palm oil tanker with 39 crew was seized in the same area late Tuesday.

Pirates seize Iranian, Japanese vessels off Somalia
Two vessels, an Iranian bulk carrier and a Japanese-operated tanker, have been seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau said on Thursday.

The hijackings came after a Malaysian palm oil tanker with 39 crew was seized in the same area late Tuesday. The latest attacks raised to six the number of ships hijacked in the Gulf of Aden since July 20.

In the first incident Thursday, pirates "continuously fired" on the Iranian bulk carrier before boarding and commandeering it, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur.

"Both ships were attacked and hijacked this morning," said Noel Chong, head of the International Maritime Bureau piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

He said there has been no communication so far with either vessel, but a multi-coalition naval force in the areas has been informed, and "is taking action." The naval force includes the United States, France, Germany, Pakistan, Britain and Canada, which currently holds the rotating command.

The Japanese tanker had 19 crew on board, but no Japanese nationals, Chong said.

Thursday's seizures came after a Malaysian oil tanker, with 39 crew on board and laden with palm oil, was hijacked on Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden.

Piracy is rife off Somalia, which has been mired in anarchy since warlords overthrew a dictator in 1991.

Last week, pirates from Somalia hijacked two ships -- a Thai cargo ship, the MV Thor Star, and a Nigerian tug boat, the MT Yenegoa Ocean.

Somali pirates are still holding a Japanese-managed bulk vessel, the MV Stella Maris, that was hijacked on July 20.

Agencies
Last Mod: 21 Ağustos 2008, 15:10
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