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Monday, 12 August, 2002, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Somali pirates hold Greek tanker
Somalia location map
The ship is said to have been seized off Bossasso
A ship seized by pirates off the Somali coast two weeks ago is a Greek-owned vessel, not a British tanker as first thought, according to a maritime crime watchdog.

The International Maritime Bureau identified the vessel as the North Korean registered Jenlil.

There had earlier been confusion about the identity of the vessel and British naval forces in the area had tried to resolve the issue.

Somali militiamen holding the boat's six Georgian crew are reportedly demanding a $1m ransom.

HMS Cumberland
A helicopter from a British naval vessel scoured the coast

Somali waters have been the scene of several acts of piracy and vessels are advised to keep at least 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the coast.

The country is ruled by rival warlords, having been without a central government for more than 10 years since the overthrow of President Siad Barre.

The seized vessel has been moored off the coast of Puntland, a breakaway region in the northwest of the country, aid workers in Somalia told AFP news agency.

Negotiations

They said the pirates were members of a powerful clan and that they had originally demanded $300,000 (200,000) for the ship's return before increasing the ransom.

Ransom negotiations are already underway between a North Korean ship's owners and the pirates.

Following an earlier seizure off Puntland in the past month, the owners of a Cyprus-registered vessel paid a $400,000 (260,000) ransom.

A helicopter from British Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland scoured the coast near the Somali port town of Bossasso on Sunday after reports that the vessel was British-registered.

The British Ministry of Defence told BBC News Online that the frigate had completed its search and was now continuing with its duties as part of the war against terror.

Warships from countries in the international coalition against terror formed after the 11 September attacks have been patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

US officials have pointed to Somalia as a likely haven for wanted militants fleeing Afghanistan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jayant Abhyankar, International Maritime Bureau
"In the last 11 years there's been exponential growth in these types of attacks."

Politics

Terrorist haven?

RESOURCES
See also:

03 Jul 02 | Africa
24 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
24 May 02 | Africa
11 Jul 02 | Africa
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