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Hijacked UK-flagged chemical tanker opens fire on navy vessel

Hijacked UK-flagged chemical tanker opens fire on navy vessel

London: Pirates onboard the hijacked UK-flagged chemical tanker St James Park opened fire from the deck and that of an adjacent ship against a navy vessel, presumed to be a US ship, writes Reuters quoting international media. Reportedly more than 70 "large" calibre rounds were fired at the navy vessel before it finally altered course. The navy vessel did not engage and no fire was returned, reports say. The incident occurred at Garacad at the North-Eastern Somali coast, on February 16 2010.

St James Park, a chemical tanker, carrying hazardous cargo from a port in Spain to Thailand, was seized on December 29 2009. On board there is a 26-member crew, including nationals of Bulgaria, Russia and Turkey.

Reportedly, on February 3 2010, it was revealed that the pirates had evaluated the chemical tanker and its cargo at $3m - their asking price for the safe return of the vessel and crew.

According to reports in international media, the pirates managed to escape even though a French frigate was nearby at the time of the ship's seizure. All members of the crew are reported to be safe.  [18/02/10]