Somali pirates hijack Thai fishing boat, 16 crew

Pirates hijacked a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew members off the coast of Somalia, the eighth ship to be seized in the area in the past two weeks, a maritime official said Wednesday. The boat was seized Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur. Also Tuesday, an Iranian bulk cargo carrier with 25 crew members was seized in the area, according to earlier reports. Both vessels were heading to the Middle East when they were hijacked, he said. The US Navy's 5th Fleet based in Bahrain dispatched an aircraft to the area after the hijackings were reported, and spotted the two vessels in the hands of the pirates, 5th Fleet spokeswoman Cmdr Jane Campbell said.