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April 5, 2010

Pirates seize 300,000 dwt tanker headed for LOOP

The 300,000 dwt South Korean tanker Samho Dream was hijacked in the Indian Ocean, Sunday, in waters about 1,500 kilometers southeast of the Gulf of Aden. It was en route from Iraq to the LOOP with a cargo of oil for Valero Energy valued at $17 million.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry in Seoul says the attack took place around 4:10 P.M. Sunday (KST).

Five South Korean and 19 Filipino crew members were aboard the Marshall Islands-registered vessel owned by South Korea's Samho Shipping Co.

The ministry has set up a task force to respond to the hijacking. A South Korean Navy destroyer, which has been in the region for anti-piracy operations, has been ordered to move toward the expected route of the hijacked tanker, apparently heading to Somali waters. But the main task of the warship is not to intercept the hijacked ship, a Foreign Ministry official told reporters.

"The government, including its highest decision-makers, is dealing with the situation, putting top priority on the lives and safety of the crew members," the official said.

"The government will not directly take part in any negotiations as it believes such a move can further jeopardize the lives of hostages. Samho Shipping will be in charge of any negotiations with the government only playing a supporting role," Yonhap news agency reports him as saying.

Yonhap reports Samho Shipping as saying that the tanker "did not have any guards on board because it was in an area not prone to pirate activities."


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