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Somali forces storm hijacked ship

Somali regional forces rescues a hijacked cargo vessel and arrests seven pirates after a clash in the Gulf of Aden, an official said.

world Updated: Apr 22, 2008 15:28 IST

Somali regional forces on tuesday rescued a hijacked cargo vessel and arrested seven pirates after a clash in the Gulf of Aden, an official said.

Three pirates and a soldier from the semi-autonomous Puntland region were wounded in the incident, a day after the Al-Khaleech was hijacked as it sailed from United Arab Emirates to the Puntland port town of Bosasso.

"We are very pleased that our forces secured the boat and its crew," said Puntland Seaports Minister Abdisamed Yusuf Abwan, who added that none of the more than 10 crew on the cargo ship were wounded.

The UAE-owned vessel, contracted by a Somali trader to transport merchandise, was seized on Monday about 100 nautical miles from Basasso, said Bile Mohamoud Qabowsade, an advisor for the Puntland president.

Somalia has had no effective central government for more than 17 years, and its waters are considered to be among the most dangerous for shipping in the world.

On Monday pirates holding 26 crew members on a Spanish fishing boat off the Somali coast meanwhile demanded a ransom for their release, a day after storming the vessel armed with grenade launchers.

A Spanish naval frigate was heading from the Red Sea to the area of the seizure off east Africa, according to a government source.

Also on the same day On Tuesday a Japanese oil tanker was damaged and then chased by heavily armed pirates off the coasts of Somalia and Yemen, officials and crew members said. No one was hurt.

Six Somalis have meanwhile been charged by a court in the French capital Paris for taking the crew of a French luxury yacht hostage for a week off Somalia earlier this month.