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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 09:24 GMT
Russian ship seized off Somalia
Somali pirates (file pic)
Piracy is a major problem for shipping off Somalia
Pirates have seized a Russian ship off the coast of Somalia, officials say.

The Svitzer Korsakov tug was taken to the port of Eyl in Somalia's northern semi-autonomous Puntland region, the local governor told the BBC.

However, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted officials as saying the vessel was in the port of Mogadishu - further to the south.

Six crew members - four Russians and two Britons - are reported to be on board the ship.


They are said to be in radio contact with Svitzer Wijsmuller Sakhalin Ltd - the company that chartered the tug to service offshore oil platforms.

The ship was reportedly heading from Russia's port of St Petersburg to the island of Sakhalin in the country's far east region.

Somali coastal waters are now considered to be among the most hazardous in the world. With no effective government, pirates are able to operate largely unchecked, correspondents say.

The International Maritime Bureau recently warned that pirate attacks in the region had become more violent and pirates were better armed.

Country profile: Somalia
26 Jan 08 |  Country profiles

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