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Italian ship hijacked off Somali coast

10-11-2011 10:31 BJT

NAIROBI, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Suspected Somali pirates on Monday hijacked an Italian-owned ship with 23 crew members aboard, a former regional maritime official said on Monday.

Andrew Mwangura, the maritime Editor of the Somalia Report said the pirates seized the Italian-flagged Montecristo, some 620 nautical miles (1,148 kilometers) from the Somali coast.

According to the Italian-based firm which manages the ship, Dalmare Spa, the vessel which has 23 crew members consisting of 7 Italians, 10 Ukrainians and 6 Indian nationals, was carrying a consignment of iron materials. "The Vessel was hijacked on Oct. 10 in Gulf of Aden or further to the east at about 0700, no communications after that. Crew are 23, 7 Italians, 10 Ukrainians, 6 Indians," Dalmare said in a statement posted on the firm's website.

Mwnagura said Montecristo was on heading to Vietnam which it came under attack approximately 450 nautical miles Northwest of Socotra, Yemen.

The pirates have intensified their action in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden and most of hijackings end without casualties when a ransom has been paid, but often after several months of negotiations.

The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia. Tankers carrying Middle East oil through the Suez Canal must pass first through the Gulf of Aden.

Pirate gangs operating along Somalia's 1,900-mile-long (3,100- kilometer) coastline have become increasingly audacious over the past two years, hijacking dozens of merchant ships and their crews to earn ransoms that can top 1 million U.S. dollars per ship.

Combined Task Force 150, a naval alliance dominated by the United States and based in the Gulf of Aden nation of Djibouti, is patrolling an area within the Gulf of Aden to help protect ships from pirates.

 

Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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