ROUNDUP: German ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia

ROUNDUP: German ship hijacked by pirates off SomaliaBerlin - A German-flagged cargo ship, described in one news report as a container vessel, has apparently been hijacked by pirates near the Somali coast, two German government ministries in Berlin said Sunday.

The Spiegel Online website in Germany quoted Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, as saying it was a 20,000-gross-ton vessel. He did not give its name, but said it had a crew of 24.

It had been seized about 400 nautical miles (about 750 kilometres) off the southern Somali port of Kismayo, between the Seychelles and Kenya, Spiegel Online said.

The German Foreign Ministry said it was assuming a German-flagged ship had been captured in the Indian Ocean and had formed a task to deal with the crisis. A spokeswoman declined to discuss what diplomats were doing.

A Defence Ministry spokesman in Berlin confirmed there had been a hijack, but he did not specify the ship's origin, the time it was captured, or who had attacked it.

Several German vessels have been captured on the coast and only freed after ransom payments. A week ago, German Navy units in the area thwarted an attempted pirate attack on a navy oiler in the Gulf of Aden and detained seven would-be pirates. dpa