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Somali Pirates Seize Liberian-Owned Ship With 21 Crew

Suspected Somali pirates have seized a Liberian-owned bulk carrier with 21 crew members, all of them Filipino.

The European Union's anti-piracy force says the ship, the MV Voc Daisy, was hijacked Wednesday in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Oman.

It says the ship's crew contacted security forces before four pirates carrying assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade stormed on board and seized control.

The EU force says it has confirmed that all 21 crew members are safe.

Somali pirates are now believed be holding 24 ships in all with about 400 crew members. Ships and crews are usually released unharmed after a payment of ransom.

An international maritime group says pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden have dropped this year because of multi-national naval patrols.

The International Maritime Bureau says there were only 17 attacks in the Gulf of Aden during the first three months of 2010, compared to 41 the year before.

However, Somali pirates have avoided the patrols by going farther out to sea.

The pirates have taken advantage of good weather to capture more than 20 ships since the beginning of March, most of them in the Indian Ocean.

On Tuesday, the EU force said pirates had captured three Thai fishing vessels about 2,000 kilometers off Somalia's coast. An EU spokesman said the attacks were the pirates' longest-range attacks so far. He said the ships were hijacked closer to India than to Somalia.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.