Armed pirates hijacked a Greek ship with 25 crew members off Somalia on Thursday, authorities said, bringing to 55 the number of reported attacks in the lawless sea lane of the African region.
The bulk carrier was headed to Kenya when it was attacked off the eastern coast of Somalia, the 13th ship to be seized in African waters in the past two months, according to Noel Choong of the International Maritime Bureau.
He said the latest incident showed that Somali pirates, who were previously operating in the northern coast in the Gulf of Aden, were now beginning to expand and attacking ships in the east.
A multinational naval force patrolling the area has been informed, and the ships have been warned to stay clear from Somalia's coast, he said.
"Pirates are beginning to attack now in the eastern coast of Somalia. We advise ships to stay at least 250 miles from the coast and even then, they must maintain a strict watch," Choong said.
The latest incident brings to 55 the number of attacks in Somalia this year, most of which occurred in the Gulf of Aden. The surge if attacks has prompted the U.S. Naval Central Command to establish a security corridor patrolled by an international coalition of warships.
The Gulf of Aden, which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, is one of the world's busiest waterways with some 20,000 ships passing through it each year.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. Pirates there are often trained fighters, many of them dressed in military fatigues and typically armed with automatic weapons, anti-tank rocket launchers and grenades.
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