Greece says pirates seize cargo ship off Somalia

ATHENS, March 19 (Reuters) - Pirates seized a Greek-owned cargo ship off the coast of Somalia late on Thursday, the third such incident in the past two months, Greece's merchant marine ministry said.

"The Saint-Vincent-flagged cargo vessel Titan with 24 crew was sailing from the Black Sea to Korea when it was attacked by pirates," a ministry official who declined to be named said. "We have informed the anti-piracy centres in the region."

Three of the crew were Greeks, police said.

Piracy off Somalia, one of the world's busiest shipping areas, and other coasts of Africa has increased sharply over the past year, earning the pirates millions of dollars of ransom payments and pushing up maritime insurance rates.

Last month, pirates seized a Greek-owned cargo ship, with 22 crew off Somalia. In January, pirates seized another Greek vessel off the coast of Cameroon and killed its Greek captain.

EU forces foiled a pirate attack on a Greek-flagged crude oil tanker off the coast of Somalia in the same month. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Richard Balmforth)