Maritime officials said the Pramoni - a 20,000-tonne Indonesian-owned vessel - was seized en route to India and was now heading towards Somalia.The ship has a crew of 24, most of whom are Indonesian.Last Monday Somali pirates captured two other ships with 45 crew off the East African coast.
A UK-flagged chemical tanker, the St James Park, was captured in the Gulf of Aden while on its way to Thailand from Spain.The Navios Apollon, a Panamanian-flagged Greek cargo ship with 19 crew, was hijacked north of the Seychelles.In the latest incident, the captain of the Singapore-flagged Pramoni reported by radio that the ship had been hijacked but all the crew were well, the EU counter-piracy force Navfor said.The ship's crew consists of 17 Indonesians, five Chinese, one Nigerian and one Vietnamese, it added.Pirate attacks are common off the Somali coast and international navies have been deployed to counter them.Somali pirates seize Indonesian chemical tanker -
Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, told AFP pirates armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades launched the attack from a skiff off Somali waters.
"The Somali pirates chased the tanker and sprayed bullets early Wednesday in a bid to hijack the ship," he said."Fortunately, the tanker managed to escape the pirates," Choong said, adding there were no reports of injuries to the crew.He urged seafarers to be on high alert as pirates were attacking ships on "all fronts.""Pirates are expanding their areas of attack. They are now operating in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and in the Indian Ocean," he said.National oil conglomerate Kuwait Petroleum Corp. said later that none of its large fleet of tankers had been attacked, but an industry source told AFP the vessel in the report could belong to a private company based in the emirate.Several other Gulf and pan-Arab oil tanker companies are based in Kuwait.Somali pirates captured a freighter, bulk carrier and a chemical tanker recently, defying foreign warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden and ending the year with millions in ransom.The marauding sea bandits' latest catch was the St James Park, a British-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 26 from nine different countries, which was seized on Monday.Since the resumption of pirate attacks following the end of the summer monsoon season three months ago, Somali pirates have expanded from the Gulf of Aden into the wide open seas of the Indian Ocean, venturing as far as the Seychelles and beyond, Choong said.Despite the increased international military presence off Somalia's coastline -- the longest on the African continent -- pirates have raked in huge ransoms.Alongside the EU, the United States and other national navies deployed warships off the Somali coast in December 2008 to protect vessels and secure maritime routes in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.