Somali pirates seize tanker with 28 North Korean crew


London/Nairobi: Somali pirates have captured a tanker with 28 North Koreans aboard – but failed in an attack to seize a Ukrainian vessel following a firefight, the European Union’s anti-piracy mission off Somalia NAVFOR said Tuesday.

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NAVFOR said that Virgin Islands-owned chemical tanker MV Theresa VIII was attacked 180 nautical miles northwest of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean Monday.

The ship was heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa, but has been turned north and is presumably heading for the Somali coast.

Ukrainian craft MV Lady Juliet was attacked by pirates firing Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades, but were repelled by a Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) from NAVFOR.

“The attack commenced when two small skiffs detached from a mother ship and made a fast approach towards the MV Lady Juliet,” NAVFOR said in a statement. “The VPD returned fire and the skiffs broke off their attack.”

No casualties were reported.

Pirates’ activity off Somalia is ramping up again after a lull due to the monsoon season.

Around a dozen ships are being held, although a pirate spokesman said that they had released a Spanish fishing vessel after receiving a $4 million ransom.

Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa nation, which has not had an effective central government since 1991.

Young men take to the seas in search of multimillion-dollar ransoms despite the presence of over a dozen international warships, which were dispatched to the Gulf of Aden last year to combat a rise in piracy.

The pirates have expanded their operations further out into the Indian Ocean to avoid the patrols.