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Somali pirates holding hijacked Philippine bulk carrier with 21 crew members
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16:00, October 17, 2008

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Somali pirates are holding a Philippine bulk carrier after hijacking it this week with 21 crew members aboard, a regional maritime official confirmed on Friday.

Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said pirates seized the African Sanderling and its 21 Filipino crewmen on Wednesday with full cargo of fertilizer.

Mwangura said the hijacking brought the number of Filipinos being held by pirates to 66 on four ships.

"I got confirmation that the pirates hijacked African Sanderling on Wednesday with 21 Filipino crew members. The vessel was sailing from Aqaba, Jordan with full cargo of fertilizer," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

Pirates have seized more than two dozen ships this year off the Horn of Africa, and more than 100 Filipino sailors have been involved in those raids. One died during an attack.

With more than 270,000 Filipinos on thousands of vessels around the world, Filipinos account for about a third of the international shipping industry's crew.

The latest hijackings are part of a surge of daring maritime attacks off the coast of Somalia, a war-torn country that has been without a functioning government since 1991.

The waters off its coast are considered to be some of the worlds most dangerous.


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