South Korea tanker hijacked by Somali pirates
A South Korea-operate, Singapore-owned oil tanker has been hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.
The 300,000-tonne Samho Dream - loaded with crude oil - was on its way from Iraq to the United States with 24 crew when it was seized on Sunday.
South Korea has sent a destroyer already in the area to intercept the tanker before it reaches any port.
Pirates targeting ships off the coast of Somalia made tens of millions of dollars in ransom payments last year.
The hijacking is thought to have taken place about 1,500 km (930 miles) south-east of the Gulf of Aden.
"The government has dispatched our Cheong-hae naval unit to the waters of the Indian Ocean, where the ship hijacked by Somali pirates is assumed to be," the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.
At least four South Korean ships have been hijacked by Somali pirates in recent years: a tuna ship with 25 crew in 2006, two ships and 24 crew (held captive for six months) in 2007, and a cargo ship with 22 sailors in September 2008.
The crew in that last attack were released after the ship's owner paid a ransom.
The first successful hijacking of what is called a Very Large Crude Carrier was of the Saudi-owned Sirius Star in late 2008.
Another VLCC, the Maran Centaurus, was taken last November and held for two months before a ransom estimated at between $5.5m and $7m was paid.