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Somali pirates seize second Stolt chemical tanker

Somali pirates seize second Stolt chemical tanker

Nairobi: Somali pirates have hijacked a second ship chartered by chemical tanker shipping group Stolt-Nielsen, a regional maritime official said on Tuesday.

Gunmen seized the Stolt Strength in the Gulf of Aden on Monday afternoon, nearly two months after they hijacked Stolt Valor, a chemical tanker on its way to India.

"The ship was en route to Kandla, India from Senegal and was carrying phosphoric acid," said Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, which monitors piracy.

He said there were 23 Filipino crew on board, two more than had previously been thought. The Philippines-flagged carrier is managed by Manila's Victoria Ship Management, he added, and is on a long-term charter to Stolt-Nielsen.

Somali pirates also tried to seize another ship on Monday, a reefer flying the Saudi Arabian flag, but failed, Mwangura said.

Hijackers took a ship managed by Danish company Clipper Group with 13 crew last week.

The International Maritime Bureau says 199 incidents of piracy or attempted piracy were reported worldwide from January to September this year, of which 63 were in the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast.

Ten European Union nations said on Monday they would contribute to an EU operation that would deploy an air and naval force to guard the busy channel.

The operation is due to be launched next month and is expected to involve four to six ships at any given time, as well as several maritime surveillance aircraft. [12/11/08]