Somali pirates hijack St Vincent, Grenadines flagged cargo ship with 23 Chinese aboard

08:40, April 12, 2010      

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Somalia pirates have hijacked a St. Vincent and Grenadines flagged cargo ship in the Indian Ocean waters near Seychelles with 23 Chinese crew members aboard, a regional maritime official confirmed on Sunday.

Andrew Mwangura, the East African coordinator of Seafarers Assistance program (SAP), said that MV Rak Afrikana was hijacked early Sunday approximately 280 nautical miles west of Seychelles.

"All the crew members in the Rak Afrikana are 23, all Chinese, " Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

Earlier, EU Naval Force Commander John Harbour said Rak Afrikana with deadweight of 7,561 tons has currently stopped due to engine problems.

"The cargo vessel is owned by Rak Afrikana Shipping Limited from Seychelles. The nationality of the crew is at this moment unknown," Harbour said.

Piracy has become rampant off the coast of Africa, especially in the waters near Somalia which has been without an effective government since 1991.

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