Saudi ship hijacked

Muneer Ahmed M. Yunus, a spokesman of the Jeddah-based International Bunkering Co., which owns and operates the tanker, said the company “lost communication with the vessel on Monday.”
A Greek captain and a Sri Lankan crew of 13 were piloting the 5,136-ton vessel, which was on its way back from delivering a shipment of crude to Japan
“I have no idea about the progress in negotiations with the pirates,” said Yunus.
Mohammad Kamal Orry, the Saudi owner of the tanker, was unavailable for comment.
John Harbour, spokesperson for the European Union Naval Force (EU Navfor), confirmed the hijacking. Harbour said he was unaware of any ransom, but that it is typical for pirates to ask for the money once the ship is secured in Somali waters.
The ship is believed to be moored near Garacad, a port city in Somalia known to be a pirate stronghold. The tanker was reportedly outside an internationally recognized transit corridor of this heavily trafficked sea channel connecting Asia and the Arabian Gulf with the Mediterranean.
Emboldened by rising ransom payments, Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars by seizing vessels in the Indian Ocean and the busy Gulf of Aden shipping lanes.
Although the number of pirate attacks increased in 2009, the number of ships successfully hijacked remained about the same as in 2008 because of increased multination naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden and better sailor training and awareness.
Somali pirates are currently holding six hijacked ships and 132 sailors, including those aboard Al-Nisr Al-Saudi, according to the EU Naval Force. That figure may increase in coming months. Pirate attacks typically spike in the calmer waters of the spring months.
Last year, pirates seized the Saudi supertanker Sirius Star carrying $100 million in oil cargo.
In another incident, a Turkish vessel was about to be captured by pirates late last year. Thanks to the efforts of a Saudi patrolling team, the pirates were immediately driven away and the vessel was secured.
Several such incidents of piracy have been reported from the Gulf of Aden, which has become a notorious area to sail.

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