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NAPLES, Italy — Pirates attacked two cargo ships off the coast of Somalia on Thursday, seizing one of them, European Union Naval Force officials said.

Pirates ran down the Panamanian-flagged MV Al Khaliq early Thursday morning, taking the ship and crew of about 26 hostage.

As that attack was occurring, the Italian-flagged MV Jolly Rosso also came under attack. Two small skiffs fired on the Jolly Rosso with automatic weapons and three rocket-propelled grenades, but the attack was thwarted as the ship was able to outmaneuver the pirates. There were no casualties reported.

There was no indication the two attacks were coordinated, said Royal Navy Cmdr. John Harbor, a spokesman for EU Naval Force.

The Belgian warship BNS Louise Marie, attached to the EU Naval Force, and the USS Donald Cook, part of NATO Task Force 508, were dispatched to the area along with EU Naval Force maritime patrol aircraft. The ships and planes are patrolling the area looking for the skiffs that fired on the Jolly Rosso, about 460 miles off the coast.

The MV Al Khaliq was attacked about 200 miles off the coast of the Seychelles islands, southeast of Somalia. The pirates boarded the ship and used a crane to pull their skiff onto the Al Khaliq, officials said.

There has been no communication between EU Naval Force and the pirates.

“Standard practice is for pirates to take the captured craft to their stronghold and contact the ship’s owner. This hasn’t happened as of Thursday afternoon,” Harbor said.


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