Pirates Seize 21 Americans on Cargo Ship off Somalia

Sixth ship seizure in a week; first with all-American crew
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 8, 2009 6:17 AM CDT
This photo released on Jan.28, 2009 by the French Defense ministry, shows suspected pirates intercepted by Marine commandos of the French Navy in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's coast, Jan. 27, 2009.   (AP Photo/Ecpad/French Defense Ministry)
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(Newser) – After a sustained 5-hour attack off the coast of northern Somalia overnight, pirates have hijacked a US-flagged cargo ship with 21 crew members aboard, the BBC reports. A Kenya-based diplomat identified the vessel as the 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama, reports the AP, and said all the crew members are American. The vessel is the sixth to be seized within a week and the first with an all-American crew.

The emboldened pirates managed to hijack 15 ships last month, and are wreaking havoc on one of the world's busiest shipping routes.