'Hong Kong ship taken hostage off Somalia' | world | Hindustan Times
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'Hong Kong ship taken hostage off Somalia'

world Updated: Sep 17, 2008 01:09 IST

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A Hong Kong-registered chemical tanker has been seized and its 22 crewmembers taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog said Tuesday.

The vessel was attacked by heavily armed Somali pirates late Monday while travelling through the area, said Noel Choong, head of the Malaysia-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre.

"The incident happened in the maritime security corridor that is patrolled by coalition naval forces," Choong told AFP.

"The situation (in the Gulf of Aden) is dangerous. We urge the UN and the international community with naval assets in the region to stop this menace," he said.

Since July, 12 ships have been hijacked by pirates plying the narrow waterway separating Yemen and Somalia, according to the IMB.

A German-registered ship was released last week but 11 vessels, including two Malaysian state-owned ships, are still in the hands of the pirates who are negotiating ransoms for their release.

Maritime experts say that many attacks go unreported along Somalia's 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles) of largely unpatrolled coastline.

The pirates operate high-powered speedboats and are heavily armed.

In recent months, a multinational taskforce based in Djibouti has been patrolling parts of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, where a pirate mothership is believed to be operating.