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Daily Archives: October 4, 2008

Somali pirates strike four ships in one day

Armed Somali pirates attacked four ships, including an Italian crude-oil tanker, in what a maritime piracy watchdog said Friday was a "critical level" of attacks in the Gulf of Aden.
"It is one of the highest number of attacks in a single day in the same area," said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
He said the vessels were attacked on October 1 by Somali pirates armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the notorious waterway.
"We are warning ships to be on high alert. Pirates are attacking ships almost every day. It is at a critical level now," he said.
"Three hijacked vessels were released a few days ago and it now appears this group of Somali pirates are looking for ships to hijack again."
The first attack occurred at 1100 (Macau time) when pirates armed with guns and travelling in speedboats tried to board a United Arab Emirates bulk carrier with 28 crew on board, heading from Europe to Asia.
"The master took evasive manoeuvres and a coalition helicopter arrived and chased the pirates away," Choong said.
Less than an hour later, a gang armed with rocket-propelled grenades attempted to board a Philippine-owned chemical tanker heading from the Middle East to Asia with 12 crew on board, but was chased away by a warship.
In the third incident pirates targeted a crude-oil Italian tanker but were foiled when the ship's master took evasive action.
The final incident occurred when pirates armed with machine guns forced a Taiwanese container ship with 20 crew members to halt. The ship's captain deployed fire hoses to retaliate and the vessel managed to escape.
Choong said it was not known if the same gang was responsible for all the attacks.
Somali pirates released three ships three days ago — an Egyptian vessel and two Malaysian ships owned by MISC Berhad, which reportedly paid a hefty ransom to secure the release of its vessels and crew.
Meanwhile, pirates holding a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware Thursday maintained their demand for a 20-million-dollar ransom as a blockade around them tightened.

Nobel Literature Prize to be announced Thursday

The Swedish Academy said yesterday it would announce the winner of the Nobel Literature Prize on October 9, with Stockholm's literary circles already abuzz over who the winner could be.
The permanent secretary of the Academy, Horace Engdahl, will make the much-awaited announcement in Stockholm on Thursday at 1:00 pm (1100 GMT).
In line with tradition, the Academy gave no indication of its choice. It never reveals the names it is considering, and its deliberations are sealed for 50 years.
While editors and literary critics in Stockholm stress that trying to predict the Academy's choice is a mere guessing game, French novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio appeared to be the name on everyone's lips in the run-up to this year's announcement.
"This time I think it could be Le Clezio," Maria Schottenius, culture editor at Sweden's paper of reference Dagens Nyheter, said, citing as other possibilities Romanian-born German author Herta Mueller and South Korean poet Ko Un.
Other names cited in recent weeks were Algerian French-language novelist Assia Djebar, Cees Nooteboom of the Netherlands, Israeli author Amos Oz, Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, Czech writer Arnost Lustig and Mexico's Carlos Fuentes.
Yet others include Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa, US authors Philip Roth and Joyce Carol Oates, Japan's Haruki Murakami, Italy's Antonio Tabucchi and French poet Yves Bonnefoy.
Other poets were Syria's Adonis, Australia's Les Murray, John Ashberry of the United States, Denmark's Inger Christensen and Sweden's Tomas Transtroemer.
Meanwhile, online betting site Ladbrokes has Italian essayist Claude Magris as the frontrunner with 4-to-1 odds, ahead of Adonis, Oates and Roth.
Last year, the honours went to British novelist Doris Lessing.
The laureate will receive 10 million Swedish kronor (1.42 million dollars, 1.02 million euros).