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Pirates steering ship towards Somalia

DHAKA, Dec 6 – A Bangladeshi-flagged vessel hijacked by pirates in the Arabian Sea off the coast of India was heading towards the Somali coast on Monday, the head of Bangladesh\’s shipping department said.

Rear Admiral Bazlur Rahman said the M.V. Jahan Moni, which has 25 Bangladeshi crew on board, was captured on Sunday while sailing to Greece carrying 43,000 tonnes of nickel ore from Indonesia.

"The ship is now moving towards the Somali coast, so we suspect Somali pirates have captured it," Rahman told AFP, adding that they were tracking the vessel, which will take at least four days to reach Somalia.

Government ministers and shipping officials were to meet later Monday to discuss their response, he said.

"We are concerned because all the crew are from Bangladesh. One of them is also travelling with his wife," he said.

Indian coast guard aircraft will on Monday launch an aerial search for the 45,000 tonne-capacity vessel, which is owned by Bangladeshi shipping company Brave Royal.

It was attacked twice on Sunday before being boarded by heavily-armed pirates.

The US and other navies have deployed dozens of warships to patrol off east Africa but have failed to stem piracy, one of the few thriving businesses in Somalia, a country devastated by war and poverty.

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Officials said Bangladesh\’s shipping department had also contacted a British anti-piracy office in Dubai and a regional anti-piracy office in Singapore for help.

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