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Chinese freighter hijacked by pirates, Iran tracking

MYT 12:55:00 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese freighter has been hijacked by pirates off southern Iran, but it is being shadowed by the Iranian navy, the Chinese embassy in Tehran reported on Friday.

The cargo ship, the Xianghuamen, belongs to Nanjing Ocean Shipping Co Ltd in Nanjing, eastern China, the embassy said on its website.

The ship was commandeered on Friday morning in the Gulf of Oman near the south Iranian port of Chabahar, the embassy said.

The Chinese ambassador to Iran, Yu Hongyang, demanded that Iran made the safety of the hijacked crew members a priority and tried to rescue them, the government news agency Xinhua reported.

The Xianghuamen had departed from Shanghai, stopped to unload goods in Singapore, and was on its way to Imam Khomeini port in southwest Iran, Xinhua said.

It gave no other details, including on the number or origins of the crew or the pirates.

An official with Nanjing Ocean Shipping contacted by telephone confirmed the hijacking, but would not provide any further information.

(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones and Zhou Xin; Editing by Kim Coghill and Alison Williams)

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