Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hijacked oil tanker nears Somalia

A giant Saudi oil tanker seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean is nearing the coast of Somalia, the US Navy says.

The Sirius Star is the biggest tanker ever to be hijacked, with a cargo of 2m barrels - a quarter of Saudi Arabia's daily output - worth more than $100m.

The vessel was captured in what the navy called an "unprecedented" attack 450 nautical miles (830km) off the Kenyan coast on Sunday.

Its international crew of 25, including two Britons, is said to be safe.

The hijacking was highly unusual both in terms of the size of the ship and the fact it was attacked so far from the African coast, says BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

The seizure points to the inability of a multi-national naval task force sent to the region earlier this year to stop Somali piracy, he says.

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