Attempted nighttime hijackings by Somali pirates of two ships have been foiled in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime official said on Tuesday.
The attacks earlier this week on two ships, flagged in Singapore and Panama, took advantage of a full moon and light winds.
They followed the hijacking Friday of a Spanish tuna trawler off the east coast of Somalia. It is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes where some 169 ships have been attacked this year.
Late yesterday, two pirate boats shot rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns at the Panama-flag bulk carrier, and the crew fired back with distress rocket flares, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.
After the crew called the international naval coalition for help, a warship and helicopter chased the pirates away, he said, but had no more details.
None of the 24 crew were injured but part of the carrier was damaged, Choong said. The vessel, managed in Greece, was heading from the Middle East to the Mediterranean.
The Singapore-flag vessel, carrying cars and managed in Norway, was attacked Sunday night en route to Africa from the Middle East.