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Sri Lanka-bound vessel- 'Samho Jewellry' seized by Somali pirates.

Colombo, Jan. 18 -- Suspected Somali pirates hijacked a Norwegian-owned cargo ship -'Samho Jewellry' with 21 crew on board in the Indian Ocean, on its way to Sri Lanka from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The chemical tanker along with eight South Koreans, two Indonesians, and 11 Burmese were seized last Saturday, in the waters between Oman and India, officials said.

The vessel was 350 nautical miles southeast of the port of Muscat, Oman when it was taken, the European Union's anti-piracy mission EU NAVFOR mission said in a statement, adding that no further details about the attack were available.

The ship is owned by a Norwegian company and operated by South Korea's Samho Shipping, based in the southern port city of Busan, according to EU NAVFOR. However the current location of the freighter was unknown, South Korean foreign ministry official had told media.

The hijacking comes two months after Somali pirates, released another supertanker used by the same South Korean shipping company, having keeping the vessel for nearly seven months.

The 300,000-tonne Samho Dream and its 24 crew - five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos - were released only after a ransom reported as a record US $9 million was given to the pirates in a helicopter airdrop.

After the latest hijacking, pirates now hold 29 vessels and 693 hostages off the coast of Somalia. Last year, Somali pirates carried out more than 200 hijackings, a record number, according to the Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau.

Timeline of ship hijackings with Sri Lankan crew

* On December 7, thirteen Sri Lankan crew, Greek Captain along with the Saudi Arabian flagged oil tanker- MV Al Nisr Al Saudi were released from Somali pirate control.

* Around November 30, in the first-ever recorded instance where Somali pirates targeted Sri Lankan fisher folk, two fishermen- Lal Fernando and Sugath Fernando were abducted in international waters.

* On November 26, reports emerged that suspected Somali pirates seized MV Albedo- a Malaysian freighter along with 23 crew members, including Sri Lankans in the Indian Ocean, approximately 900 nautical miles (1,660 kilometres) from Mogadishu.

* On August 2, a Panama-flagged vessel- MV SUEZ with a crew of 23 (Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India Nationalities), dispatched a message stating that it was "captured under small arms fire from a pirate attack".

* Another cargo vessel- 'MV Talca' was hijacked along with its multinational crew including twenty Sri Lankan nationals, by Somali pirates off the Oman coast on March 23, 2010 was released on May 11, 2010 after lengthy negotiations and the payment of a ransom.

* On March 3, 2010, Saudi Arabian flagged oil tanker- MV Al Nisr Al Saudi along with thirteen Sri Lankan crew and Greek Captain heading to Jeddah from Japan was pirated in the Gulf of Aden.

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Publication:Asian Tribune (India)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Jan 18, 2011
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