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Pirates fail in boarding Israeli cargo ship

PIRATES opened fire on an Israeli-owned cargo ship in the Indian Ocean but failed in their attempts to board the vessel, a shipping executive said yesterday.

Rafi Danieli, managing director of the Zim shipping line, said company headquarters received a message from the captain of the ship on Saturday morning saying that pirates in speedboats were firing at him and attempting to take over the ship, but without success.

"We had installed coils of barbed wire round the ship's hull, which it appears prevented them from getting on board," he told Israeli Army Radio.

Danieli said the pirates, however, did not give up and for several hours trailed the vessel, the Maltese-flagged Africa Star, which was on its way from Mombassa, Kenya, to the Red Sea port of Djibouti.

Zim notified the Israeli navy and the foreign ministry, which in turn urgently contacted an international anti-piracy task force patrolling the nearby Gulf of Aden. "A British plane took off ... and helped to chase off the pirates," Danieli said.

Israeli media said all of the Africa Star's crew - none of whom were Israeli - were safe and unharmed.

Last week pirates attacked a German military supply ship, which returned fire, pursued the seven perpetrators and then detained them with the help of other ships participating in the anti-piracy mission.


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