Pirates Hijack Jordanian Ship Off Coast of Somalia

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Somali pirates hijacked a Jordanian ship Saturday in the latest in a string of attacks off the lawless coast of Somalia, the head of a seafarer's association said.

Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program said the attack occurred early Saturday morning. He could not say how many crew were abroad, but said Kenyans, Tanzanians and some Asians were among them.

The pirates had seized the ship not far from Mogadishu and were taking it north, he said.

It is the second time the ship has been attacked. Pirates tried to board it outside the Somali port of Merka last year but the ship, called the Victoria, managed to escape.

Piracy is rampant along Somalia's 1,880-mile coast, which is the longest in Africa and near key shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. There have been more than a dozen pirate attacks this year alone.

Somali officials have blamed Western companies for encouraging the practice by paying ransoms that can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Last month, the United States and France introduced a U.N. resolution that would allow countries to chase and arrest pirates off Somalia's coast, responding to recent attacks including on French, Spanish and Japanese vessels.

Wracked by more than a decade of violence and anarchy, Somalia does not have a navy, and a transitional government formed in 2004 with U.N. help has struggled to assert control. The U.S. Navy has led international patrols to try to combat piracy in the region.