South Asia

Bangladeshi ship seized by pirates heads to Somalia

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A Bangladeshi-flagged cargo ship hijacked by pirates off the coast of India appears to be heading towards the Somali coast, shipping officials say.

The MV Jahan Moni, carrying 43,000 tonnes of nickel ore, was taken over by heavily-armed pirates on Sunday.

The ship was taken around 300 nautical miles (550km) off the coast of the southern Indian city of Kochi.

The ship, with 25 Bangladeshi crew on board, was on its way from Indonesia to Greece, officials said.

"For the first time a Bangladeshi-owned ship has been hijacked," Captain Jashimuddin Sarker, chief nautical officer in the Department of Shipping, told the BBC.

"We are tracking the ship and it appears to be moving towards the Somali coast," he said.

The vessel is owned by a Bangladeshi shipping company Brave Royal. One of the sailors is travelling with his wife.

"If the pirates are from Somalia, then it shows that they have the capability to travel even more than 2,000km (1,245 miles) from the Somalian coast," Captain Sarker said.

He said it will take at least four days for the ship to reach Somalia.

Somali pirates have been seizing ships increasingly far away from their homeland, but have never been known to operate so close to India.

Bangladeshi officials have now asked for help from the Indian coast guard and from anti-piracy teams in Dubai and Singapore.