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Pirates hijack German ship

SOMALI pirates hijacked a German cargo ship carrying 11 crew members in the Gulf of Aden, the latest seizure by high-seas bandits who are holding hundreds of merchant mariners hostage, officials said yesterday.

The German-owned ship, the MV Victoria, was captured on Tuesday afternoon 120 kilometers south of Yemen, said Lieutenant Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based US 5th Fleet. He had no information on the condition of the 11 Romanian crew members aboard the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged ship.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the world's most important shipping lanes, connecting Europe and Asia via the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is used by 20,000 ships a year and has become the world's hot spot for pirate attacks.

At least 19 ships and about 250 sailors from countries around the world are now being held hostage by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, directly off Somalia's eastern coast.

Last year, dozens of ships were seized and an estimated US$1 million per boat was paid in ransom for their release, according to analysts. Each pirate gets an estimated US$10,000 for a hijacking.


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