Another Ship With Russians Hijacked by Somali Pirates

Pirates have hijacked a Danish cargo ship with a crew of 13 aboard, most of whom are Russian, near Somalia, a maritime official said.

The vessel was en route from the Middle East to Asia in the Gulf of Aden when it was seized Friday, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

Kjeld Fredriksen, duty commander at the Danish Admiral Fleet, said the ship was operated by CEC Clipper in Denmark, which has an ownership interest in the vessel. Choong said the ship flies a Bahamian flag.

Fredriksen said there were no Danes among the crew, which consisted of "Russians and Ukrainians as far as I know." He had no information on whether there were any casualties.

Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the Sovfrakht Maritime Bulletin, told Ekho Moskvy radio on Saturday that the crew comprised eight Russians, four Estonians and one Latvian.

Voitenko said the seized ship was "a small dry-cargo vessel" with a deadweight of 7,000 tons, Itar-Tass reported.

The attack comes despite increased patrols in the area after pirates seized the Ukrainian ship Faina on Sept. 25. The ship — which is still being held for ransom and is carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other weaponry — had a crew of 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian, but one of the Russians has died of a heart attack, Itar-Tass reported.

Russia has sent a warship to the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. NATO has sent three ships to the sea to help the U.S. Navy in anti-piracy patrols and to escort cargo vessels.

There have been 81 attacks this year in the African waters, with 32 ships hijacked. Eleven vessels remain in the hands of pirates along with more than 200 crew, Choong said.

AP, MT