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Somali pirates hijack Iran-bound ship
Thu, 21 Apr 2011 16:54:19 GMT
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Alleged Somali pirates (file photo)
Somali pirates have hijacked an Italian ship with 21 crew members off the coast of Oman in Indian Ocean waters, the European Union's Naval Force says.

The MV Rosalia D'Amato was hijacked by Somali pirates, nearly 350 nautical miles southeast of Oman's port of Salalah, EU Naval Force Somalia spokesman Paddy O'Kennedy said on Thursday.

The Italian-flagged ship was on its way to Iran's Bandar Imam Khomeini from Brazil with a cargo of soya beans.

"There is no further information about the crew at present," Reuters quoted O' Kennedy as saying.

"Coalition warships had communications with the vessel and were told, 'pirates onboard stay away'," the EU Naval Force said in a statement.

Rampant piracy off the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia has made the waters among the most dangerous in the world.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels traveling annually between Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

However, attacks by heavily armed Somali pirates on speedboats have prompted some of the world's largest shipping firms to switch routes from the Suez Canal and reroute cargo vessels around southern Africa, leading to climbing shipping costs.

Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia has been embroiled in a bitter civil war for two decades.

The country does not have a functioning government and the authority of the Transitional Federal Government is limited mostly to the area around the capital, Mogadishu.

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