Somali pirates hijack Japanese ship - officials

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NAIROBI, Oct 29 (Reuters) Somali pirates have hijacked a Japanese ship in the latest such seizure in the Horn of Africa country's notoriously lawless waters, regional maritime officials said today.

Andrew Mwangura, head of the Kenyan-based East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said shipping sources in both Somalia and Japan had told him the ship, possibly a tanker, was seized last eight nautical miles offshore.

''We are trying to establish what demands they have and how many people were on board,'' Mwangura said by telephone from the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.

''There are five well-organised pirate groups operating in Somali waters. We know the one which took this boat,'' he said, adding more details should be available later today.

REUTERS SYU KP1307

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