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Pirates seize ship, use it to launch new attack

Somali pirates hijacked an Indonesian-flagged ship off the coast of East Africa then used it to launch a second failed attack, the European Union's anti-piracy task force said Thursday.

Pirates captured the Indonesian-flagged MV Sinar Kudus in the Arabian Sea on Wednesday, then used it to attack a Liberian-flagged cargo ship nearby, the EU Naval Force said. Private security forces on board the cargo ship repelled the attack, it said.

The force said in its statement that initial reports from the crew indicated that 30 to 50 pirates boarded the Sinar Kudus when it was seized.

Pirates currently hold about 26 ships and close to 600 crew members. Somalia has not had a functioning government in two decades, and piracy has flourished off its coast.

Separately, pirates released a Panamanian-flagged vessel after four months of captivity, the EU Naval Force said. The crew of 30 aboard the chemical tanker MV Hannibal II were "safe and in good health."

In December, the EU Naval Force evacuated a crew member from the Hannibal after receiving reports that he had a possible appendicitis. The patient was treated by a German medical team after pirates gave their consent.

Pirate attacks have turned increasingly violent in the last several months. Pirates typically command approximately $5 million to release a ship and crew.