Vietnam oil tanker hijacked after leaving Singapore released by pirates; two injured

HANOI (Reuters) - Pirates that captured a Vietnamese oil tanker last week after it left Singapore have released the vessel, the company that owns the ship said on Thursday.

Two of the tanker's 18 crew have been injured and the pirates took part of its cargo of more than 5,000 tonnes of gas oil, said Nguyen Vu Diep, a manager at the Haiphong Sea Product Shipbuilding Co.

"Officers from Vietnam's coast guard approached the ship and are escorting it to Phu Quoc island as two crew members have been injured," said Diep. The island lies 40km west of Vietnam's southwestern province of Kien Giang.

"One sailor was beaten and has a broken leg," Diep said."The crew was attacked by more than 10 armed pirates."

The Sunrise 689 had vanished from radar 40 minutes after leaving Singapore on Oct 2 when it was bound for Quang Tri province in central Vietnam.

Diep said the coast guard approached the ship after the pirates had left it.

The tanker was freed early on Thursday, according to the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in Singapore. It said the tanker's communication equipment had been destroyed.

There has been a series of piracy attacks in Southeast Asian waters this year, with at least 11 vessels hijacked in the Strait of Malacca or South China Sea since April, according to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.