Friday, September 19, 2008

Somali pirates hijack Hong Kong ship, 24 Chinese crew aboard

Armed Somali pirates hijacked Wednesday a Hong Kong bulk carrier with 25 crew members, 24 of them Chinese, off the Somali coast, the Chinese embassy in Nairob confirmed.

The bulk carrier owned by Sinotrans of Hong Kong was en route from Tunisia to Pipavav, India when it was hijacked off the eastern coast of Somalia, the 14th of such seizure by the pirates in the past two months, said Andrew Mwangura, an coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program .

Besides the 24 Chinese, a Sri Lankan captain was also on board the vessel that was captured, Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

The carrier was the second Hong Kong ship hijacked this week in the region. A Hong Kong-registered carrier was hijacked on Monday near the Somali coast with 22 crew on board. None of them were Chinese citizens.

Somalia's 3,300-kilometer coastline is considered by the International Maritime Bureau one of the world's most dangerous stretches of waters due to piracy as the Horn of Africa remains plagued by factional fighting since 1991.

Over 30 foreign ships have been captured by pirates near the Somali coast this year and more than 10 of them remain in the hands of pirates.


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