Pirates hijack tanker off Somali coast

Pirates off Somalia’s coast have hijacked a chemical tanker with a North Korean crew, European naval forces reported.

The MV Theresa VIII, owned by a Virgin Islands company and operated from Singapore, was seized in the Indian Ocean on Monday, according to a statement from the European Union Naval Force Somalia whose charge includes combating maritime piracy.

Theresa VIII, carrying a crew of 28 North Koreans, was heading for Mombasa, Kenya, but was hijacked in the South Somali Basin.

Somalia’s transitional government has been unable to stop pirates, many of whom are based in the country’s port cities. That has prompted Western countries to step up martime patrols.

Pirate attack off the coast of east Africa have significantly increasde this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crimes. But seccessful aatacks have declined as a result of the strong presence of international monitors.

From January 1 till September 30 this year, pirates worldwide mounted 306 attacks, compared with 293 in all of 2008. More than half of this year’s attacks were carried out by suspected Somali pirates off the east coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, a major shopping route between Yemen and Somalia.

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