Pirates seize new tanker off Oman

May 11, 2012 at 3:32 PM

MUSCAT, Oman, May 11 (UPI) -- A Greek shipping company said Friday one of its oil tankers was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Oman overnight.

The Smyrni was carrying 135,000 metric tons of oil to Somalia when contact was lost Thursday night.

The waters off the Horn of Africa are frequently prowled by pirates despite the presence of a European Union naval task force assigned to protect the shipping lanes. The BBC said at last count there were about 17 ships and nearly 300 sailors being held for ransom by pirates in Somalia, the BBC said.

The Liberian-flagged Smyrni carried a crew of about 15 Filipinos and Indians. The vessel was launched just last year and was on only its second voyage when it was captured.

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