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Pirates fire RPGs to take control of bulker off India

Nairobi: Somali pirates fired rocket propelled grenades and small arms before seizing a cargo ship and its 24 Filipino crew in the Indian Ocean, the EU's anti-piracy force said Sunday.
The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier, Renuar, was attacked some 550 nautical miles from the coast of India and more than twice that distance from Africa, the European Union's Atalante mission said.
"The 24-man Filipino crew attempted to evade the pirates for some time causing the pirates to make several determined attacks before finally boarding the vessel," it said in a statement.
"There are presently no communications with the ship and the condition of the crew is not known."
It said the ship was attacked early Saturday by two skiffs, supported by a mother ship "with pirates firing small arms and rocket propelled grenades at the merchant vessel".
"Since the attack, the pirates have confirmed that they have control of the ship which is now heading West towards the Somali Coast."
The 70,000 tonne ship, which is Liberian owned, was en route to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Port Louis in Mauritius.
The EU Naval Force said on Friday pirates hijacked a U.S.-operated ship just east of the Tanzania-Mozambique border, making it one of the most southerly attacks Somali pirates have pulled off.
All 23 crew members on the MV Panama were from Myanmar. The EU Naval Force had no information about their condition.
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, the owner of a Bangladesh-flagged ship hijacked a week ago by pirates said Sunday that all 25 crew members and the wife of a sailor were safe.
Shipping company owner Mohammad Shahjahan said the hijacked M.V. Jahan Moni was anchored off the Somali coast. Shahjahan said he spoke to two crewmen and the sailor's wife twice by telephone on Sunday.
All the Bangladeshis were confined in the wheel room on the top of the ship, "but they are safe," Shahjahan told reporters. He said the pirates had not yet made a ransom demand for the release of the ship and those aboard. [13/12/10]


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