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By Samuel R. Avro on Nov 30, 2008 with no responses

Pirates Seize Tanker Off Somalia Coast

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A chemical tanker was the latest ship to be hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Friday. A NATO helicopter gunship arrived too late to prevent the seizure, although it did manage to rescue three security guards who had jumped into the sea.

The aircraft was sent by Germany and France, who both have forces in the area as part of an international anti-piracy coalition.

This is just the latest incident in an area which has now turned into a danger zone for international shipping. Because of the rash of hijackings taking place off the coast of Somalia -a major international shipping lane- many countries have now sent ships to bolster sea patrols. Denmark, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Russia and the United states have all begun to patrol this vast corridor.

But as in this latest case, forces are usually too late in arriving to prevent the hijackings. 25 Indians and 2 Bangladeshis were taken hostage during the 15 minutes that it took for the aircraft to arrive at the site.

The ship hijacked Friday, the Liberian-flagged MV Biscaglia, is operated out of Singapore, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Malaysia.

The pirates are growing bolder. Hugh Martin, manager of Hart Security, said 20 speedboats filled with pirates launched a simultaneous attack on two slow-moving companion vessels off the south coast of Yemen on Thursday. Hart staff onboard both ships were armed, but managed to use evasive maneuvers and non-lethal methods to prevent the pirates from boarding during the four hour attack.

Friday’s incident was the 97th reported hijacking this year.