Pirates Hijack Cargo Ship, Open Fire On Another

Pirates seized control of a cargo vessel near the Seychelles Thursday, one of two attacks that took place within minutes of each other off the coast of east Africa, according to the European Union Naval Force.

In this undated photo provided by the Belgian government, the Belgian ship Pompei, owned by De Nul, is shown in unidentified waters. On Saturday, April 18, 2009 the Belgian government reported that a Belgian ship may have been attacked by pirates of the east African coast. It said the ship, the Pompei, gave two warnings early this morning that it was under attack off the east African coast on its way to the Seychelles. (AP Photo/Belgian Government)

(CNN) - Pirates seized control of a cargo vessel near the Seychelles Thursday, one of two attacks that took place within minutes of each other off the coast of east Africa, according to the European Union Naval Force.

The EU maritime patrol responded to the early morning attack, along with the Seychelles Coast Guard. The crew of the Panama-flagged MV Al Khaliq said two pirates were on board, before communication was cut off. The EU force confirmed that six pirates have boarded the 180-meter long bulk carrier, with two attack skiffs in tow. They hoisted the "mother skiff" onto the vessel with a crane, the EU force said.

A second attempted hijacking took place at approximately the same time, but the Italian-flagged cargo ship evaded the attack, the EU said. Armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, pirates opened fire on the MV Jolly Rosso about 460 miles (740 km) east of Mombasa, Kenya.

A Belgium warship, part of the EU force, responded to the attack, which caused no casualties. The 200-meter vessel continued its voyage.

Pirate attacks off the coast of east Africa have increased this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau, which monitors shipping crimes.

The first nine months of this year has seen more pirate attacks than all of last year. And more than half of those attacks were carried out by suspected Somali pirates, IMB said Wednesday.


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