11/18/2008, 00.00
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Hijacked Saudi oil tanker spotted in Somali port

The Sirius Star, a supertanker with 100 million dollars in oil on board, has been spotted in the port of Harardhere. It is the largest ship of its kind ever captured. One third of all incidents of piracy in the world take place in the Gulf of Aden.

Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The supertanker Sirius Star, hijacked on November 15 in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates, has been spotted outside of the Somali port of Harardhere. The Sirius Star, owned by the Saudi company Aramco, is the largest ship of its kind ever captured in the history of piracy. It is carrying oil worth 100 million dollars - 2 million barrels, equal to one fourth of Saudi Arabia's daily exports. The crew is composed of 26 members - 19 Filipinos, one Saudi Arabian, two Poles, two Croats, two Brits.

Groups of Somali and Nigerian pirates continue to terrorize commercial ships passing through the Gulf of Aden. In addition to raising insurance premiums, the raids force the ships to go around South Africa instead of using the Suez Canal. In order to reclaim their ship and its cargo, the companies are forced to pay large ransoms.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, hijackings on the coast of eastern Africa represent one third of all incidents of piracy worldwide. The capture of the Sirius Star, 450 miles from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, represents the largest attack this year. The hijacking took place place in spite of joint NATO and U.S. efforts. This month, Japanese, Chinese, and Turkish ships have also been hijacked.

Saudi authorities have established contact with the pirates. They say that the crew is safe, and say no ransom will be paid.

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