U.S. defense officials say the crew of the U.S.-flagged cargo shipped hijacked
Wednesday off the coast of Somalia has retaken control of the
Officials say the crew captured one pirate and three others are
believed to be in the water.
The 17,000-ton Danish-owned container vessel
'Maersk Alabama' was seized early Wednesday about 450 kilometers southeast of
Eyl, a town in the northern Puntland region of Somalia. It has a crew of 20 U.S.
The ship was carrying emergency food aid to Mombasa,
Kenya. A spokesman for the U.N. food agency (Nairobi-based Peter Smerdon)
said the cargo includes 990-tons of vegetable oil and more than 4,000 metric
tons of corn-soya blend.
The incident marks the first time an
American-registered ship has been hijacked by the pirates operating off the
coast of East Africa.
The ship was the sixth
vessel seized in the region within a week.
The United States and other
nations deployed warships near Somalia late last year in an effort to stop
pirates from seizing ships, but pirates appear to be venturing further out to
sea to avoid the naval patrols.
Bahrain-based U.S. Navy Spokesman Nate
Christensen said the closest ship was more than 550 kilometers away.
Somali pirates have seized more than 50 ships over the past 18 months,
sometimes receiving multi-million dollar payments for their release.
pirates, who operate from bases on Somalia's east coast, are currently holding
more than a dozen ships and their crews.