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2 Somali Pirates Die in Hijacking of Yemeni Vessel

Yemeni officials say Somali pirates have seized an empty Yemeni oil tanker in a deadly clash with coast guards.

The officials said two pirates were killed in the confrontation in the Gulf of Aden Sunday. Three other pirates and two coast guards also were wounded.

Earlier Sunday, Kenyan maritime groups said Somali pirates had released another Yemeni freighter and its 15 crew members. The ship was seized in January with a cargo of petroleum products.

Yemen is across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, where ship hijackings are rampant.

Separately Sunday, the captain of an Italian cruise ship said his security staff fought off a pirate attack in the region Saturday with pistols and a water hose.

Commander Ciro Pinto told Italian media the ensuing gunfight damaged the ship, but the 1,500 passengers were unhurt.

He said six armed pirates attacked the ship from a small speedboat in the Indian Ocean, off the Somali coast. After the attack, the ship continued toward its destination, the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past year despite increased maritime security by international naval patrols.

They are currently holding at least 16 vessels, including a German-owned cargo ship seized Saturday in the Gulf of Aden.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.