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Thai fishing vessel hijacked off Somali coast
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A Thai fishing boat has been hijacked off the Somali coast with 16 crew members onboard, a regional maritime official said on Wednesday.

Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa's Seafarers Assistance Program told Xinhua by telephone that the Thai vessel was hijacked on Tuesday.

More than 80 ships are estimated to have been attacked in African waters, with at least over 10 more ships believed to be in the hands of pirates along with more that 200 crew members.

Each year about 20,000 vessels pass through the Gulf of Aden.

Escalating pirate hijackings have activated the involvement of multi-coalition naval force to patrol world's most dangerous waters.

In recent months, multinational taskforce based in Djibouti has been patrolling parts of Gulf of Aden and Red Sea where pirate is rife.

Dozens of merchant vessels have been seized by gangs off Somalia's 3,700-km coastline in recent years, despite the presence of Western navies.

Somalia has been without an effective central authority since the 1991 ousting of former president Mohamed Siad Bare.

(Xinhua News Agency November 19, 2008)

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