Undeterred by US and French hostage rescues that killed seven bandits, Somali pirates brazenly hijacked three more ships in the Gulf of Aden, the key waterway that's become the focal point of the world's fight against piracy. The M.V. Irene E.M. was hijacked early Tuesday, but it was not immediately clear where the ship is based or who owns it, two maritime security contractors said, speaking on condition of anonymity because it is a sensitive security issue. The ship put out a distress signal shortly after midnight "to say they had a suspicious vessel approaching. That rapidly turned into an attack and then a hijacking," one of the contractors told The Associated Press. "They tried to call in support on the emergency channels, but they never got any response." On Monday, Somali pirates also seized two Egyptian fishing boats in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern coast, according to Egypt's Foreign Ministry. It cited a Somali diplomat in Cairo as saying there were 18 to 24 Egyptians onboard at the time.