Iran strives to free hijacked sailors

August 23rd, 2008 - 5:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Tehran, Aug 23 (Xinhua) Iran is making diplomatic efforts to release the member of the crew of its bulk carrier, which was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia, Press TV reported Saturday. “We are trying to use diplomatic means to release sailors of the hijacked Iranian ship, which was carrying 40,000 tons of iron ore from China to the Netherlands,” chief of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) Mohammad-Hossein Dajmar was quoted as saying.

The pirates have set no conditions for the return for the release of the crew, Dajmar said, adding that the Iranian sailors are in good health.

An official of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP) confirmed Thursday that armed Somali pirates have hijacked a Japanese tanker and an Iranian bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden.

The pirates opened fire on the Iranian vessel before boarding it Wednesday night, the official said.

The latest hijackings came two days after a Malaysian palm oil tanker was seized in the same area by pirates.

The frequency of piracy attacks has been especially high in the past month. Since late July, Japanese, Nigerian, and Thai ships have all been hijacked by Somali pirates seeking ransoms.

Piracy has long been a problem in the Gulf of Aden, where one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, connecting the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, passes by lawless Somalia, which has been without an effective central government since 1991.

The attackers are usually armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades and travel in small, fast speedboats that can be towed more than 100 miles offshore by larger vessels to lie in wait.

Somalia’s coastline is considered one of the world’s most dangerous stretches of waterlanes because of the pirates.

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