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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Somali pirates may have bagged another ship

Reported here:
An unidentified merchant vessel has been reported hijacked by gunmen in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia in what is feared to be the latest in a surge of attacks on commericial shipping there, a maritime official said today.

If confirmed, the hijacking would bring to at least five the number of ships in the same area currently in the hands of pirates and would be the 33rd attack on ships in and around Somali waters since mid-March.

Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan chapter of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme (SAP) said his organisation had been informed that a ship of unknown ownership and registry was seized early today.

"We were called by traders who frequent the Mogadishu-Mombasa route and informed that a new merchant ship has been hijacked off northeastern Somalia," Mr Mwangura said from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

He said the reports indicated the vessel was taken near the Somali town of Haradere, the base of pirates blamed for the spate of attacks that have prompted dire warnings to avoid the coast and calls for foreign intervention.

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