Somali pirates hijack Indian dhow with 13 crew

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Somali pirates are holding an Indian dhow with 13 crew members after seizing it on Friday, a regional maritime official confirmed on Monday.

Andrew Mwangura, East Africa's Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP), said the gunmen seized MV Neseya off the coast of Kismayo in southern Somalia.

"The ill-fated dhow was taken on Dec. 18 at 1030 GMT some 170 nautical miles east northeast of Mombassa," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone from Mombasa.

"The total crew comprises of 13 Indian nationals. No information on the attack or MV Neseya's present position, course and speed is available yet," he said, adding that eight to 10 pirates are estimated to be on board.

Piracy has become rampant off the coast of Africa, especially in the waters near Somalia, which has been without an effective government since 1991.

Ransoms started out in the tens of thousands of dollars and have since climbed into the millions. An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's northern coast.

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