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Pirates grab cargo ships off Somalia coast

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: International Maritime Bureau: Hijackings make 26 pirate attacks this year
  • Cargo vessels hijacked in Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia
  • Another ship taken Sunday in same area
  • Crew still aboard ship taken earlier
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From David McKenzie
CNN
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(CNN) -- Two cargo ships have been hijacked in the Gulf of Aden between Yemen and Somalia, a Kenyan maritime official said Thursday.

"The ill-fated vessels under captivity are MV Lehmann and MV Arean," said Andrew Mwangura of the Kenyan Seafarers Association.

The ships were taken Wednesday in roughly the same area where the Dutch-owned MV Amiya Scan was hijacked Sunday, he said. Mwangura did not know who owned the ships and had no more details on the hijackings.

The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red and Arabian seas, has become a treacherous stretch for ships, particularly along Somalia's coast.

On Sunday, an unknown number of pirates hijacked the MV Amiya Scan as it traveled through the Gulf of Aden en route from Kenya to Romania. Video Watch the hurdles facing pirate hunters »

Lars Walder, a spokesman for Reider Shipping BV, the ship's owner, said he spoke to crew members Wednesday, and they told him they still had not gone ashore. The crew of four Russians and five Filipinos had not been harmed, he said.

The MV Lehmann and MV Arean hijackings would bring the number of attacks this year on ships near the Somali coast and elsewhere in the Gulf of Aden to 26, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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The bureau, which tracks piracy, said there had been 24 attacks as of Tuesday. Of those, seven were successful hijackings, the officials said.

A spokesman for the bureau said Thursday that no one was there to answer questions regarding the new hijackings.

Cyrus Mody of the bureau said earlier this week that Somali pirates seem to take ships "purely for financial gain."

In the seven earlier hijackings this year, most were resolved with a ransom payment, Mody said, adding that the pirates in Somalia typically treat the crews on the hijacked ships well.

It is difficult to tell exactly whether the same group is hijacking these ships, he said. There are at least four distinct pirate groups in the country, he said.

Abdirahman Saleh Bangeh, information minister for Somalia's semiautonomous Puntland region, said Wednesday that the regional government is not able to fight piracy on its own.

He said any naval support from other nations would have to include financial aid to be effective, and he suggested that plans be developed.

A draft resolution introduced last month to the U.N. Security Council would combat Somali hijackings by allowing foreign governments to pursue pirate vessels into Somalia's territorial waters and make arrests.

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The resolution, sponsored by the United States, Panama, France and Britain, noted that Somalia's transitional government welcomes international assistance.

Maritime groups have said they hope the resolution is adopted and expanded to other waters.

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