Daniel Wallis
April 8, 2009

Somali pirates hijacked a U.S.-flagged, Danish-owned container ship on Wednesday with 20 American crew on board in a major escalation in attacks off the lawless Horn of Africa nation, officials said.

[efoods]The 17,000 ton Maersk Alabama was seized off Mogadishu far out in the Indian Ocean, but all its crew were believed to be unharmed, Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the Mombasa-based East African Seafarers’ Assistance Program, told Reuters .

Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk confirmed the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama had been attacked by pirates about 500 km (300 miles) off Somalia and was presumed hijacked. The company said it had 20 American crew on board.

In Washington, White House staff were closely monitoring the situation and assessing what steps to take.

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