Somali pirates seize Japanese, Iranian vessels

August 21st, 2008 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, Aug 21 (Xinhua) Armed Somali pirates have hijacked a Japanese tanker and an Iranian bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden, a regional maritime official said Thursday.Andrew Mwangura, the coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), said the pirates opened fire on the Iranian vessel before boarding it Wednesday night.

He added that about an hour later a Japanese tanker with 19 crew members was also attacked and seized near the same location.

“Somali pirates hijacked two ships last night within hours, an Iranian ship first and later a Japanese ship. I have not established their names,” Mwangura told Xinhua.

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

Mwangura said authorities would wait until they had a better idea of the identity of the sailors and the hijackers before trying to contact the crew.

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