Somali pirates hijack Libyan cargo ship

Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden have hijacked a Libyan-owned cargo ship thought to be carrying 17 seafarers from Romania and Libya, a Kenya-based maritime group said on Thursday.

Ecoterra, which monitors shipping off Somalia, said the 4,800-tonne MV Rim was seized on Tuesday in the strategic channel south of the Yemen coast. It said it was flying a North Korean flag, but is owned by White Sea Shipping of Tripoli.

"Her crew usually comprises 17 sailors and, based on outdated crew lists, it could be assumed that they are holding Romanian and Libyan nationalities," Ecoterra said.

The group said local reports suggested the hijackers were from Somalia's semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

"It is assumed the vessel is now commandeered to one of the Puntland pirate lairs," it said in a statement.

A European Union counter-piracy force confirmed the hijacking but had no information on the make-up of the crew.

"The MV Rim ... has now altered course and is heading towards the Somali Basin. Coalition forces will now monitor the situation," EU Navfor said in a statement.

Piracy attacks worldwide rose nearly 40 per cent in 2009, with Somali pirates accounting for more than half the 406 reported incidents, the International Maritime Bureau says. 

 

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