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Archive for Saturday, August 23, 2008

Warship going after hijacked crew, vessels

August 23, 2008

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— A warship from an international naval force has been deployed to track three vessels and their 57 crew members that were hijacked in an unprecedented spate of attacks by pirates off the coast of Somalia, a maritime official said Friday.

Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau also called on the United Nations to do more to bring rampant piracy under control off Africa's eastern coast.

Choong, who heads the IMB's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, said the coalition naval force based in the region is monitoring the movement of the Iranian, Japanese and German vessels that were seized Thursday in the Gulf of Aden.

"All the three ships are still moving and appear to be heading toward Somali territorial water. A warship has been dispatched to monitor and track the vessels," he told The Associated Press.

The naval force includes the United States, France, Germany, Pakistan, Britain and Canada, which currently holds the rotating command. No other details were immediately available.

Pirates on Thursday seized an Iranian bulk carrier with 29 crew and a Japanese-operated chemical tanker with 19 crew within an hour in the Gulf of Aden, Choong said. Later in the day, a German-operated cargo ship with nine crew, flying the Antigua and Barbuda flag, was hijacked in the same area, he said.

The attacks came two days after a Malaysian palm oil tanker with 39 crew was seized in the vicinity.

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