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UK-flagged tanker attacked in Gulf of Aden: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The UK-flagged Stolt Apal was reportedly attacked some 75 nautical miles off Yemen on Sunday.

A UK-flagged chemical tanker has foiled an attack by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the vessel’s operator Stolt Tankers says.

Stolt Tankers said the pirates, using two speedboats, approached the Stolt Apal some 75 nautical miles off Yemen on Sunday before an exchange of fire.

"After multiple warning shots were fired by the armed guard team aboard Stolt Apal, the skiffs opened fire on the ship. The armed guard team returned fire, disabling one skiff and ending the pursuit," a company spokesman told Reuters.

"A coalition warship (also) responded and Stolt Apal has resumed her voyage," he added, but did not specify which coalition was meant.

Maritime security sources said the ship had been sailing through a transit corridor patrolled by international naval forces because of the high risk of attack.

Stolt Tankers, a subsidiary of Norwegian listed Stolt-Nielsen, said no injuries were reported, and none of the ship's cargo was damaged, but the ship's bridge had sustained minor damage from bullets.

The Gulf of Aden is one of the most important trade routes for Middle Eastern oil heading to Europe.

Piracy used to be a major problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates frequently attacked ships, seized their cargoes and kidnapped crew members, later demanding ransom for their release. Over the past years, the threat has largely subsided after international warships were deployed to the area to protect vessels.

Merchant ships have also been attacked by militant groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

According to Maritime security firm Dryad Global, Sunday’s incident is the ninth of its kind in the Gulf of Aden this year.

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