Egyptian ship hijacked off Somali coast

January 2nd, 2009 - 2:23 am ICT by IANS  

Cairo, Jan 2 (DPA) An Egyptian ship with a crew of 28 was seized off the Somali Coast, an Egyptian official said Thursday.Some 15 heavily armed pirates captured the ship Blue Star, which is now on its way to the Somalian coast, Ahmed Rizk, assistant to Egypt’s Foreign Minister said in a press statement. The crew were all Egyptian, he said.

“The ship carried 6,000 tonnes of urea fertilizer. It was heading east from Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, but then it went towards the Somalian Coast,” Rizk said.

Egypt is currently negotiating for the release the ship and its crew. Egyptian officials have contacted European authorities about the case, he said.

In November, Somali pirates captured the Saudi-owned oil tanker Sirius Star, with two million barrels of crude oil on board, the largest seizure by pirates in history.

Foreign navies have sent over a dozen warships to the area seeking to stop piracy, which has driven up shipping cost and forced some ships to re-route around Africa rather than passing through the Suez Canal.

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