Monday Oct 10, 201106:30 PM GMT
Somali pirates hijack Italian cargo ship
Mon Oct 10, 2011 6:32PM
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MV Montecristo
Somali pirates have hijacked an Italian-owned cargo ship with 23 crew members on board off the coast of the lawless Horn of Africa nation, Press TV reports.


Twelve pirates attacked MV Montecristo on Monday and seized it some 620 nautical miles (1,148 kilometers) east of the Somali coast.

The heavily armed pirates are reportedly taking the hijacked Italian ship to Harardhere town in the Mudug Province of central Somalia.

There are seven Italians, 10 Ukrainians and six Indian nationals aboard the ship.

MV Montecristo was carrying a cargo of scrap iron, and was travelling from Liverpool, Brittan, to Vietnam when it was seized.

Rampant piracy off the Indian Ocean coast of Somalia has made the waters among the most dangerous in the world.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels traveling annually between Asia, Europe and the Americas.

However, attacks by heavily armed Somali pirates on speedboats have prompted some of the world's largest shipping firms to switch routes from the Suez Canal and reroute cargo vessels around southern Africa, causing more shipping costs.

Somalia has been in strife for the past three decades. Strategically located in the Horn of Africa, it has been embroiled in a bitter civil war for years.

The country does not have a functioning government and the authority of the so-called Transitional Federal Government is limited mostly to the areas around the capital Mogadishu.

MP/JR
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