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VILNIUS - A Lithuanian citizen is aboard a Norwegian tanker Bow Asir whichwas hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somaliaannounced the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry.
"The Foreign Ministry confirms presence of one Lithuanian citizenthere," said director of the ministry's Information and Public RelationsDepartment, Rolandas Kacinskas. He refused to reveal the sailor's identity forsecurity reasons.
In Kacinskas' words, Lithuanian diplomats contact with the Norwegian ForeignMinistry and officials of other countries concerned.
"Our embassy in Oslo is in direct and constant contact with theNorwegian company that owns the hijacked tanker ship," he added.
This is the first case when a Lithuanian citizen is held hostage by Somaliapirates.
The Norwegian-owned cargo vessel Bow Asir, which has a crew of 27 on board,was hijacked on Thursday morning. Registered in the Bahamas, the Bow Asir is achemicals and oil tanker of about 23,000 tons, according to the website ofNorway's DNV, a ship classification company.
The shipowner, Salhus Shipping AS, said it received a security alert fromthe ship at 9:29 a.m. Lithuanian time on Thursday morning saying it was beingchased by two small boats with suspected pirates. Sixteen minutes later, theship's captain reported that pirates had boarded the vessel.
"We have no reports of any injuries," he said. "We are doingour utmost to ensure the safety of the crew," said managing director PerH. Hansen said in a statement.
Last year, Somalia pirates attacked more than 130 ships in the region, adouble number since 2007.