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19.11.2009 Africa

Pirates Strike At MV Maersk Alabama Again

By Daily Graphic
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A US-flagged container ship which was hijacked by Somali pirates seven months ago has been attacked again.

Crew from MV Maersk Alabama returned fire after pirates fired automatic weapons at the US-flagged ship, about 350 nautical miles east of Somalia.

There were no casualties reported, the force said. A patrol aircraft flew from neighbouring Djibouti to the area.

MV Maersk Alabama's captain was held hostage for five days in April.

Captain Richard Phillips was rescued when American naval snipers opened fire on the pirates holding him in a lifeboat, killing three outright.

He had offered himself to the pirates in a bid to save his 19-member crew from harm.

Yesterday, an EU naval vessel searched for the pirates in the area, but the force did not say if they were found.

The force operates in the area to protect World Food Programme ships and others from piracy.

The attack came a day after pirates released a Spanish fishing boat and its crew after holding it for six weeks.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said last Tuesday that the pirates had abandoned the Alakrana tuna boat and that all 36 crew on board were 'safe and sound'.

The pirates earlier told reporters they were leaving the ship after being promised a ransom of $3.5million (£2.1million), although there was no government confirmation.—BBC

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