Africa

Somali pirates hijack ship off Tanzania

Suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia (file photo)
Image caption In 2009 there were more than 200 attacks by Somali pirates

Somali pirates have hijacked a cargo ship with 15 Indian crew off the coast of Tanzania, a maritime watchdog said.

The MT Asphalt Venture was heading to Durban after unloading its cargo of bitumen at Mombasa, Kenya, when it was attacked about 110 miles (175km) south-east of Dar es Salaam.

Ecoterra International said the vessel turned around and began heading towards the Somali port of Harardhere.

The ship is owned by United Arab Emirates company Bitumen Invest.

Spate of attacks

"Information from the ground says a pirate group... had captured the vessel and is heading towards Harardhere at the central Somali Indian Ocean coast," Ecoterra said in a statement.

The attack is the second most southerly hijacking this year, according to Dryad Maritime Intelligence, a private maritime security company.

There have been four pirate attacks off the Tanzanian coast in the past week, the company told AP news agency.

Last year there were more than 200 attacks by Somali pirates - including 68 successful hijackings - and ransoms believed to exceed $50m (£19m) in total were paid, according to Ecoterra.