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Somali Pirates Seize Indian Ship, Attack Tanker

Somali pirates have hijacked an Indian ship and used it to launch a unsuccessful attack on a super-tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

Pirates seized the Indian dhow with a crew of at least 11 on Saturday. Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers Assistance Program, said the pirates then used the ship in a failed attack on a Liberian-flagged oil tanker Monday morning.

The European Union naval force in the Gulf says one of its helicopters helped stop the attack.

The large crude carrier Elephant is similar to the Saudi-owned Sirius Star that Somali pirates hijacked in November 2008 and held for two months.

The hijacking of the Indian ship brings the number of vessels being held by Somali pirates to at least 15.

Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the last two years, often receiving ransom payments of more than a million dollars for a ship's release.

The United States, China, NATO and other world powers are conducting naval patrols off Somalia in an effort to protect commercial shipping.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991, and the clan militias and insurgent groups who control the coastline have little incentive for reining in the pirates.