Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Somali pirates seize German ship

File photo of assailants who attacked a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia in 2005
Somali pirates are believed to have made around $50m last year

Somali pirates have hijacked a German ship in the Gulf of Aden, a local maritime group says.

Andrew Mwangura, of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said the MV Longchamp's crew - 12 Filipinos and one Indonesian - were safe.

It is not clear what the tanker is carrying, although one report said liquefied petroleum gas was on board.

This is reported to be the third ship seized this year in an area that has become the world's piracy hotspot.

Warships from several countries now patrol the waters in a bid to halt the rise of piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden's busy shipping lanes.

Somali pirates made an estimated $50m last year from the attacks on, among others, a Saudi supertanker carrying $100m worth of oil and a Ukrainian ship transporting 33 tanks and other weaponry.

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