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World News

Somali pirates hijack Panama-flagged ship - regional official

BOSASO (Reuters) - Somali pirates have hijacked a Panama-flagged ship, a regional official told Reuters on Thursday, the first successful hijack since 2017.

The ship was travelling from the United Arab Emirates to Mogadishu port when it appeared to develop mechanical problems. said Musse Salah, the governor of Gardafu region in the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland.

It was attacked by six pirates on Wednesday night, he said. The number and nationality of the crew was unclear but discussions were under way to free them, he said.

At the height of their power in 2011, Somali pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau says, and held hundreds of hostages.

Attacks later sharply subsided, mainly because shipping firms implemented better security protocols, including posting look-outs, sailing further away from Somalia, and hiring private security. International warships operating as part of a coalition also helped to drive down the number of attacks.

Reporting by Abdiqani Hassan in Bosaso, Somalia; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Toby Chopra and Barbara Lewis

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