Russian oil tanker seized by Somali pirates

May 5, 2010 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, Kenya May 5- Somali pirates seized control of an oil-laden Russian tanker in the Gulf of Aden early Wednesday, the European Union\’s anti-piracy mission said.

The 106,000 tonne Moscow University was "hijacked approximately 350 nautical miles east of Socatra," the Yemeni island off the Somali coast, as it made its way out of the Gulf bound for China, EUNAVFOR said.

The ship\’s Russian operator Novoship said in a statement that the tanker had been on its way to China from the Red Sea with 86,000 tonnes of crude oil.

"According to the latest information received from the master none of the 23 seafarers on board have been hurt, the vessel and the cargo sustained no damage," Novoship said, adding that communications with the vessel had been cut at 0450 GMT.

Rear Admiral Jan Thornqvist, commander of a Swedish warship taking part in the anti-piracy mission, said the vessel "was attacked by just one skiff".

Thornqvist told journalists during a stopover in the Kenyan port of Mombasa that the crew had been locked into a cabin on board the ship as the pirates took control.

In Moscow, the RIA Novosti news agency said the tanker was attacked at around 0400 GMT and the captain managed to inform naval forces in the region before communication was cut off.

The Russian destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov was alerted and heading to the scene, the agency said.


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