Pirates hijack Greek cargo ship off Somali coast

March 20th, 2009 - 2:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Athens, March 20 (DPA) Pirates seized a Greek-owned cargo ship off the coast of Somalia late Thursday, Greece’s merchant marine ministry said.
The Saint-Vincent-flagged cargo ship Titan, with 24 crew, was loaded with steel and was reportedly sailing from the Black Sea when pirates seized the ship off Somalia.

Three of the crew are of Greek nationality, officials said.

Shipping routes off the coasts of Eastern and Western Africa have become increasingly dangerous in recent months, especially in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Cameroon and Nigeria.

Dozens of ships seized by pirates have been eventually released after owners paid tens of millions of dollars in ransom.

In January, pirates seized a Greek vessel off the coast of Cameroon and killed its captain. Last month, another band of pirates seized a Greek-owned cargo ship with 22 crew off Somalia.

NATO ships began anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia at the end of 2008, but their efforts have not yielded much success so far.

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