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Thursday, 1 January 2009

Somali pirates seize Egyptian ship

The pirates then steered the ship toward the coast of Somalia, Rizq said.

He said contacts were under way with "international and regional parties" to get the ship released — which likely meant there were attempts to negotiate with the pirates.

In the other attack Thursday, a Malaysian military helicopter saved an Indian tanker carrying a full load of oil when it was attacked by two skiffs, one of which carried seven pirates dressed in military-style uniforms, said Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center.

"They came close to the ship and started firing machine guns, hitting the bridge and the accommodation area," Choong told The Associated Press. The pirates, believed to be Somalis, tried to board the vessel several times while "firing repeatedly" but failed, he said.

The captain increased the ship's speed to maximum, made evasive maneuvers and sent an SOS, which was received by a Malaysian frigate, KD Sri Inderah Sakti, 15 nautical miles away, he said.

The frigate sent a light military helicopter, which arrived within minutes, and the pirates stopped firing and fled, said Choong.

There were no injuries to the crew but the tanker sustained some damage, Choong said, adding that if the Malaysians hadn't arrived the tanker "would have been certainly hijacked."