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Hijacked oil tanker Orkim Harmony released as pirates flee off Malaysia coast

The hijacked oil tanker Orkim Harmony has been released off the coast of Malaysia. The pirates fled in the ship's rescue boat.

Malaysia navy and maritime officials said on Friday that the Orkim Harmony was being escorted by the navy back to Malaysia's Kuantan Port. One of the 22 crew was injured with a gunshot wound during the hijacking.

Malaysia's Chief of Navy Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar said the Malaysian naval vessel shadowing the tanker in Vietnamese waters on Thursday had tried to persuade the hijackers to surrender.

On Friday, the Orkim Harmony had been redirected to Indonesia's Natuna Island, where it was expected to arrive on Saturday.

Three Malaysian navy ships and two aircraft were hunting the eight pirates.

The 7,300-tonne oil tanker was seized on June 11 off the Malaysia coast by the pirates who were reportedly carrying pistols and machetes.

During the hijacking, the pirates repainted the ship's name to 'Kim Harmon.'

It was the second seizure of a tanker by pirates in Southeast Asia in June. The 7,100-tonne oil tanker, Orkim Victory, carrying diesel loaded from Petronas was hijacked on June 4 in the same area and on the same route.

The Orkim Victory was later released by the hijackers after about 770 metric tonnes (6,000 barrels) of its cargo had been removed.

jm/jil (Reuters, EFE)