Somali pirates hijack Thai boats

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The Independent Online

Somali pirates have seized three Thai fishing vessels with 77 crew aboard more than 1,200 miles off the African coast – the furthest attack from shore to date. Pirates have expanded their range to the south and east in response to increased patrols by European and US warships.

The hijacking of the three vessels was almost 600 miles outside the normal operation area for the EU Naval Force. "Once they start attacking that far out, you're not even really talking about the Somali basin ," said Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at Chatham House. "You're looking at trade going from the Gulf to Asia, from Asia to southern Africa."

Before the latest hijackings pirates held 11 vessels and 228 crew, said Cyrus Mody of the International Maritime Bureau. The latest incident raises those numbers to 14 vessels and 305 crew.

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