Somali pirates seize ship, release another

Pirates now hold 25 vessels and 587 hostages off the coast of Somalia

Published December 28, 2010 8:14PM (EST)

Somali pirates seized a ship with eight crew onboard, the European Union Naval Force said Tuesday, but released another vessel.

The MV EMS River was seized approximately 175 miles (280 kilometers) northeast of the port of Salalah, Oman, said Wing Cmdr. Paddy O'Kennedy. The pirates have been extending their range south and east in response to increased naval patrols off the Somali coast.

The general cargo ship has a crew of one Romanian and seven Filipinos, the EU force said. The ship is German owned and was carrying petrol from Greece to the United Arab Emirates.

Another pirated vessel, the MV Motivator, was close by during Monday's attack. Kennedy said that the presence of the other ship so close shows pirates are using larger pirated vessels as 'motherships' to extend their range. Several other recent attacks have also used pirated ships to help extend the range of the small speedboats the pirates used.

In a separate development, pirates released the MV Marida Marguerite and its 22 crew. The German-owned vessel was taken on May 8 while traveling to Holland.

The European Union Naval Force says there are now 25 vessels and 587 hostages being held by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The arid Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government since 1991 and the multimillion dollar ransoms represent one of the few ways for Somalis to make money. Somalia's long coastline offers many havens for pirates, who continue to prey on one of the world's most important shipping lanes.

By Katharine Houreld

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