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Somali pirates hijack ship with Malta flag

By Xinhua,

Nairobi : Somali pirates have hijacked a Malta-flagged ship with 28 Ukrainian crew on board in the Indian Ocean, a maritime official said Saturday.

The Malta-flagged MV Ariana was seized late Friday, Andrew Mwangura, East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Programme, said.

“The vessel was sailing from Brazil to the Middle East” at the time of the incident, Mwangura said. “The crew are all Ukrainian and we believe they are safe.”

The incident came hours after a Portuguese warship thwarted an attack on a Norwegian vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The warship was part of a NATO patrol in the region.

The Portuguese warship sent a helicopter to help the Norwegian oil tanker Kition after a distress call was made. The incident occurred some 161 km off the Somali coast.

NATO said the helicopter chased the pirates back to their “mother ship”, and briefly detained about 19 pirates.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships last year and collected millions of dollars in ransom from the shipping companies.

The piracy threat in Somali waters has pushed up the insurance premiums which resulted in high freight costs.