Pirates hijack French ship off Somalia coast

September 3rd, 2008 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Sep 3 (Xinhua) Pirates have hijacked a French ship believed to be carrying tourists off the coast of Somalia, an official said Wednesday. “We received news of the hijack early in the morning, but we don’t have information about its crewmembers, name of the vessel or where it was sailing to,” Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme (SAP), said.

“Unconfirmed reports say the French ship was carrying tourists but we don’t know whether it is a yacht or cruise ship,” he said.

A spate of hijackings by pirates off the coast of Somalia of late has necessitated the deployment of naval force to patrol the area.

The US Navy announced that Western coalition warships and aircraft would patrol the Gulf of Aden region, off the Somali coast, from where pirates recently hijacked a German ship.

The country has been plagued by factional fighting between warlords and hasn’t had a functioning central government since the ouster of former ruler Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

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