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August 21, 2008

Pirates seize two more ships

The BBC and other agencies report that pirates seized two vessels--a Japanese tanker and an Iranian bulk carrier-- within an hour of each other on Thursday morning in the Gulf of Aden.

The hijackings come just two days after a Malaysian oil tanker with 39 crew was captured in the same area.

The Japanese-operated tanker and Iranian carrier were taken between 1000 and 1100 local time (0200-0300 GMT) on Thursday, Noel Choong, of the International Maritime Bureau told reporters.

The Japanese vessel is said to be carrying 19 crew, but the numbers aboard the Iranian ship are unknown.

Mr. Choong said a naval force --run by a U.S.-led six-nation coalition - was in the area and an operation was "ongoing".

Andrew Mwangura, the coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), told the Xinhua news agency that the pirates opened fire on the Iranian vessel before boarding it.


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