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Panamanian flagged ship pirated off Somali coast

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The MV Lugela was carrying a cargo of steel bars and wires
  • It sent out a distress alert and then headed towards the Somali coast

(CNN) -- A Panamanian flagged ship sailing off the Somali coast was pirated early Saturday, the European Union's anti-piracy task force said.

The MV Lugela was carrying steel bars and wires and had sailed through the Gulf of Aden heading to Mauritius.

It was about 900 miles east of Eyl, Somalia when it sent out a distress alert to its Greek operator Saturday, said the European Union Naval Force Somalia.

A short while later, the ship altered its course and was sailing towards the Somali coast. There has been no contact with the ship.

On Thursday, seven Somali men were convicted in a Kenyan court and sentenced to five years in prison for hijacking a Spanish ship last year.

The waters around the Horn of Africa, especially off the coast of lawless Somalia, have become a hub for piracy, making the busy shipping routes among the most dangerous in the world.

The anti-piracy task force, which is made up of vessels and forces from several European countries, protects vulnerable ships in the region.