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Pirates set sail for Somalia with hijacked Italian tanker

A group of five pirates seized an Italian oil tanker in the Indian Ocean early Tuesday and charted a new course towards Somalia - some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away. The mostly Indian crew included five Italians.

A ship with a superimposed target

Somali pirates target passages around the Horn of Africa

Pirates wielding rocket-launchers and submachine guns seized an Italian oil tanker Tuesday in the Indian Ocean, according to Italian and European Union officials, who added that the ship had taken a new course.

"It is heading west, in the direction of Somalia," said Commander Paddy O'Kennedy, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR).

The Savina Caylyn, which was manned by a crew of five Italians and 17 Indians, was captured early Tuesday some 800 kilometers (500 miles) west of India and 1,300 kilometers east of Somalia.

No communication

Five pirates boarded the ship from a single skiff after launching a sustained attack with small firearms and four rocket propelled grenades.

The ship's captain had unsuccessfully attempted to ward off the pirates, quickly changing gears and shooting them with water jets.

EU NAVFOR spokesman Jimmie Adamsson said authorities had had no communication with the ship since the pirates took over.

"Once a vessel is pirated, it's typical to lose communication as the pirates head for Somalia and start negotiations with the owners of the ship," Adamsson said.

No crew members were initially reported injured in the attack.

Valuable loot

An Italian navy frigate was reported heading for the scene of the attack but remained some 1,000 kilometers away.

The 226-meter (741-foot), Aframax-type vessel can carry a maximum of just over 700,000 barrels of oil, worth 86 million euros ($63 million).

The ship, which was carrying crude for the Arcadia commodities trading company, was on passage to Pasir Gudang in Malaysia from Marsa Bashayer in Sudan.

Author: David Levitz (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Editor: Rob Turner

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