Pirates Anchor Tanker off Somalia

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Somali pirates who seized the Saudi oil supertanker, the MV Sirius Star loaded with around $100 million of crude oil as cargo, anchored the ship Tuesday just off the Somali coast.

They placed it close to the main pirate den of Harardhere. Earlier Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced it will join other countries in the fight against piracy.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called the hijacking "an outrageous act" and said "piracy, like terrorism, is a disease which is against everybody, and everybody must address it together."

During a visit to Athens on Tuesday, he spoke to the news media, saying Saudi Arabia would join an international initiative against piracy in the Red Sea area, where more than 80 pirate attacks have taken place this year.

Saudi Arabia has a navy which numbers almost 20,000 in personnel.

Somali officials have said they will try to recover the ship by force, if necessary. The crew was reported to be safe by the ship's owners.

In past piracy cases, ship owners have paid large ransoms in order to recover their ships, cargo and crew.

Meanwhile, other pirates hijacked an Iranian cargo ship Tuesday. It became the seventh such vessel to be attacked in almost two weeks.

The latest ship seized is a bulk cargo carrier flying a Hong Kong flag. The boat's operator is the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

U.S. Navy Commander Jane Campbell of the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said the status of the crew and cargo was not known.

No Intervention

The U.S. and other naval forces in the area decided against taking any type of action when the supertanker was seized.

The tanker was taken by force Saturday about 450 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast.

It is the first time Somali pirates have seized such a giant ship so far out to sea and the first time they have captured so large a vessel. The ship is three times the size of a U.S. aircraft carrier.

The U.S. Navy is still surrounding a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weaponry that was seized by pirates Sept. 25 off the Somali coast.

Source: The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times

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