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Pirates Hijack Italian Ship Near Somalia

Pirates have hijacked an Italian cargo ship with at least 21 crew members in the dangerous waters near Somalia.

The European Union's anti-piracy force says the bulk carrier MV Rosalia D'Amato was seized Thursday in the Indian Ocean, 560 kilometers off the coast of Oman.

It says the ship's crew consists of six Italians and 15 Filipinos. Italy's foreign ministry, which confirmed the hijacking, put the number of crew members at 22.

Officials with Perseveranza, the company that owns the ship, say they have been in contact with the ship's captain and report that all crew members are well.

In a separate incident, South Korean naval forces boarded a vessel near Yemen Thursday because of fears pirates were on board.

Officials say all 20 crew members aboard the South Korean-owned Hanjin Tianjin were confirmed to be safe. It was not clear whether any pirates were found.

A South Korean naval destroyer had raced to the ship's aid after it sent a distress signal.

Somali pirates continue to terrorize shipping in the Indian Ocean and nearby waters despite international naval patrols. The pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past few years and taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom payments.

Earlier Thursday, the EU anti-piracy force said it released 18 suspected pirates captured by a Finnish warship earlier this month because no country agreed to prosecute them.

It says the pirates have been returned to Somalia.

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