South Asia

Bangladesh 'ship seized by pirates' off India

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A Bangladeshi-flagged ship is believed to have been seized by pirates off southern India, say shipping officials.

The MV Jahan Moni was attacked after a long pursuit near the Lakshadweep group of islands, some 300km (185 miles) from the Indian coast.

The ship, with 25 Bangladeshi crew on board, was on its way from Singapore to Europe via the Suez Canal.

Bangladeshi Rear Admiral Bazlur Rahman said the crew had raised the alarm and the ship was now moving erratically.

"We lost contact with the ship at 5.38pm (1138 GMT) Bangladesh time after it was attacked by pirates for the second time. We suspect the ship has been captured by the pirates," Adm Rahman told the AFP news agency.

"All symptoms are there that the pirates have taken control of the ship.

"It was chased by the pirates for more than an hour," said Adm Rahman, adding that the boat had sent out a distress signal.

"Now it is showing erratic movement."

The Bangladesh Shipping Department said it had sought help from the Indian coastguard and from anti-piracy teams in Dubai and Singapore.

Several nations are involved in operations to tackle Somalia-based piracy in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

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