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Pirates seize ship with Indian crew

Pirates seize ship with Indian crew

Pirates have hijacked a merchant ship with 14 Indian crewmembers and a cargo of 800 tonnes in Somali waters.

London: Pirates have hijacked a merchant ship in Somali waters and demanded a ransom for it, the second such seizure off the anarchic nation's coast in five weeks.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said on Tuesday that pirates seized the ship and its crew close to Mogadishu late on Monday.

Director of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme, Andrew Mwangura, said the vessel was the M V Nimatullah, a dhow with 14 Indian crewmembers and a cargo of 800 tonnes.

It is registered in the United Arab Emirates, he said.

"We are informed the hijackers are demanding a ransom," Mwangura added.

The cargo includes clothes, sugar, cooking oil, slippers and cosmetics, he said, and belongs to Somali businessman Sheikh Saney, who could not be reached for comment.

The vessel was seized while anchored outside Mogadishu's deepwater port after sailing from Dubai, he said.

The latest hijacking follows the capture of a UN-chartered freighter, the Rozen, with its crew of six Kenyans and six Sri Lankans in late February.

The crew is still being held off the coast of the semi-autonomous Puntland region. That hijacking was the first attack reported since the interim government, with Ethiopian military help, drove out Islamists late last year who controlled southern Somalia and helped crack down on piracy.

Violence flared again recently when Mogadishu was the scene of some of the worst fighting in 15 years, the United Nations said. Hundreds of people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled the Somali capital.

A ceasefire in Mogadishu held for a second day on Tuesday as Somali clan elders met Ethiopian commanders.

first published:April 04, 2007, 03:21 IST