Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
China rescues hijacked ship, crew in Indian ocean

A hijacked Chinese cargo ship and 25 sailors were rescued Monday, two months after they were seized by pirates off the lawless Somali coast, Chinese state media said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the ship and crew were now under the protection of a Chinese naval fleet after an early morning rescue but didn't say if the ship was retaken by force or if a ransom was paid.

Once pirates are aboard a targeted vessel, naval forces do not usually try to intervene for fear of hostages being killed or wounded. Ransoms are commonly paid to free the captured ships.

The ship, De Xin Hai, was the first Chinese vessel to be hijacked since China deployed a three-ship squadron to the Gulf of Aden last year, joining Britain, India, Iran, the U.S., France and other countries in anti-piracy patrols.

De Xin Hai, owned by Qingdao Ocean Shipping Co., Ltd, was carrying about 76,000 tons of coal from South Africa to India when it was seized Oct. 19 about 700 miles (1,100 kilometers) east of the Somali coastline.

Pirate attacks in the area nearly doubled in 2009 over a year earlier, despite the deployment in December 2008 of the European Union Naval Force - the first international force specifically to counter Somali pirates.

Somali pirates currently hold at least 10 vessels and more than 200 crew members for ransom.


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