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Somali pirates hijack British ship

world Updated: May 02, 2009 19:24 IST

Somali pirates on Saturday hijacked a British-owned bulk carrier in the Indian Ocean, their first successful attack in almost a week, a maritime watchdog said.

Pirates in the central Somali hub of Harardhere claimed to have seized two ships since Friday but it was not immediately clear whether the British vessel was one of them.

"A UK-owned bulk carrier was hijacked earlier today, 250 nautical miles southwest of the Seychelles," said Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.

He said the nationalities of the crewmen were not immediately known but that they were all believed to be safe.

Meanwhile pirates in Haradhere, one of the main bases for the ransom-hunting bandits who have been plying the Indian Ocean, said their group had seized one ship overnight and another on Friday.

"Our boys have captured two ships. One of them is carrying vehicles," said a pirate who asked to be named only Hassan. "The other is believed to be carrying goods for Somali traders," he said.

He was unable to offer more details on the ships and their crew but one of his colleagues in Haradhere, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said one of them was "Ukrainian-owned, coming from Brazil and headed to Iran."

Mwangura was not immediately able to confirm the claim nor establish whether the UK-owned bulk carrier was one of the two vessels mentioned by the pirates.