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Pirates flee on sight of navy; Chinese crew safe

05-06-2011 10:44 BJT

NAIROBI - Seven suspected Somali pirates who reportedly hijacked a Panama-flagged bulk cargo ship with 24 Chinese crew on board in the Arabian Sea have left the ship, a regional maritime official confirmed late Thursday.

MV Full City was attacked by pirates some 450 nautical miles off the coast of
Mumbai in India. [File Photo]

Andrew Mwangura, Maritime Editor for Somalia Report said the pirates attacked MV Full City at midday on Thursday and seized it some 450 nautical miles off the coast of Mumbai in India.

Mwangura said the pirates were forced to leave the ship after they unsuccessfully tried to take control of the ship and panicked the moment they saw naval ship patrolling the area.

"The pirates entered the MV Full City at midday on Thursday but the crew members confined themselves on seatbelt forcing the pirates to leave the ship after they reportedly saw naval ship which was patrolling the area," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

An armed Somali pirate stands along the coastline of Hobyo town in northeastern
Somalia in 2010. (AFP photo)

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels traveling annually between Asia, Europe and the Americas.

However, attacks by heavily armed Somali pirates on speedboats have prompted some of the world's largest shipping firms to switch routes from the Suez Canal and reroute cargo vessels around southern Africa, causing more shipping costs.

Somalia has been in strife for the past three decades. Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, it has been embroiled in a bitter civil war for years.

The country does not have a functioning government and the authority of the so-called Transitional Federal Government is limited mostly to the areas around the capital Mogadishu.

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