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Italian tanker hijacked off Oman; 7 Indians on board

A file photo of the Enrico Ievoli at Brest harbour in western France.
A file photo of the Enrico Ievoli at Brest harbour in western France. — AFP
Unsafe seas

n The 138-metre long Enrico Ievoli is the first Italian vessel to be captured after two others were released in November and December, reportedly after ransom payments.
n The Savina Caylyn, an oil tanker with five Italians and  17 Indians on board, was freed on December 21 after 10 months in captivity
n In November, cargo ship Rosalia D'Amato with a crew of 21 was released after seven months with Somali pirates
n Also, in November, British and US commandos freed Italian vessel Montecristo with seven Italians, 10 Ukrainians and six Indians on board

Rome, December 27
Pirates hijacked an Italian cargo ship with 18 persons, including seven Indians, on board at dawn today off the coast of Oman in an area known for Somali pirate attacks, officials said.

The Enrico Ievoli that was carrying 15,750 tonnes of caustic soda from the United Arab Emirates to the Mediterranean, was boarded by pirates at around 0400 GMT (0930 IST), the Naples-based owner of the ship, Marnavi, said on its website.

“There were 18 persons (seven Indians, six Italians and five Ukrainians) on board. We are in close contact with the foreign ministry," Marnavi director Domenico Ievoli told AFP.

"As far as we know, the Ievoli is currently in movement towards an unknown destination. We presume it's Somalia," he said.

Ievoli said the ship's Italian captain Agostino Musumeci had told him that "the pirates are on board but we are all fine." A foreign ministry spokesman said the Italian Navy that thwarted a pirate attack against the same ship in 2006 near Yemen had been alerted.

"Together with the crisis unit, I am closely following the hijacking of the Ievoli," Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in a message on Twitter, calling for "strict discretion to ensure a positive outcome."

According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were 352 reported hijackings worldwide between January and September -- more than half of them carried out by Somali pirates, who often operate far from Somalia's shores in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean.

The EU's anti-piracy mission NAVFOR said earlier this month that Somali pirates were holding 199 people hostage as part of their ransom business. — AFP





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