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Somali Pirates continue to gangster merchant vessels travelling along the African coast. The latest hijacking took place this morning, on a ship bound for Panama.

Somali pirates captured a Panama-flagged ship with 15 Indian crewmen early today off the Tanzanian coast, a maritime watchdog reported.

The ship was sailing to South Africa from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, according to Ecoterra International, an organization monitoring maritime activity in the region.

The vessel “is at present observed to have turned around and obviously is commandeered northwards to Somalia,” Ecoterra said in a statement. “Information from the ground says a pirate group … had captured the vessel and is heading towards Harardhere at the central Somali Indian Ocean coast.”

Over the weekend, Somali pirates seized another Panama-flagged cargo vessel but abandoned it after its 12 Ukrainian crew locked themselves in the engine room and blocked the controls.

Foreign naval powers have deployed dozens of warships since 2008 in a bid to secure the Gulf of Aden, a crucial maritime route leading to the Suez Canal, through which tens of thousands of merchant vessels transit each year. But pirates were gradually extending their area of operations, seizing ships as far east as the Maldives’ territorial waters and as far south as the Mozambique Canal.

According to Ecoterra, the number of hijackings is currently at one of its highest-ever levels, with 23 vessels and more than 400 seafarers being held.

The ship hijacked early today is owned by the United Arab Emirates company Bitumen Invest and managed by a Mumbai-based firm.

How do these ships keep getting caught slippin’? These pirate gangs have been picking these boats off for a minute now!

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