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Somali Pirates Release 1 Ship, Hijack Another

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Somali pirates hijacked a Greek-owned bulk carrier on Monday after releasing a Greek-owned tanker the day before, the European Union Naval Force said.

The cargo ship MV Eagle was hijacked early Monday by pirates who had fired small arms and grenades, according to a press statement from the EU Naval Force. There are 24 Filipino crew onboard, it said.

The attack occurred in the Gulf of Aden, 490 miles (790 kilometers) southwest of Salaam, Oman. The EU said there has been no contact with the ship since the attack.

On Sunday, the MV Motivator and its crew of 18 Filipinos was released from pirate control, another press statement said. An EU ship had assisted the crew, and "according to the ship's Greek owners, the crew are reported to be as well as could be expected given the circumstances."

The MV Motivator was taken on July 4 and released on Sunday. The average period of captivity is getting longer as pirates negotiate for higher ransoms.

In a separate development, South Korean officials said that 21 crew members aboard a South Korean-operated cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates have been confirmed safe.

Somali pirates seized the chemical carrier Samho Jewelry in the Arabian Sea on Saturday. Eight South Koreans, two Indonesians and 11 Myanmar citizens were aboard.

Two South Korean Foreign Ministry officials said Monday that all the abducted sailors were confirmed safe. They spoke on condition of anonymity citing the issue's sensitivity and gave no further details.

Last year saw a record number of pirate attacks. The weak U.N.-backed Somali government is too busy fighting an Islamist insurgency to tackle the pirate gangs. Somalia, an arid nation perched on the Horn of Africa, has not had a functioning government for 20 years.