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In brief: North Korea test called imminent

UNITED NATIONS – South Korea’s U.N. ambassador said Monday a North Korean nuclear test “seems to be imminent.”

Ambassador Kim Sook said there are “very busy activities” taking place at North Korea’s nuclear test site “and everybody’s watching.”

Kim told a press conference that in the event of a nuclear test, he expects the U.N. Security Council to respond with “firm and strong measures.”

North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a nuclear test to protest Security Council sanctions toughened after a satellite launch in December that the U.S. and others say was a disguised test of banned missile technology. The council ordered North Korea in the sanctions resolution to refrain from a nuclear test or face “significant action.”

South Korea joined the Security Council in January and holds the rotating presidency this month. Kim said he was speaking as South Korea’s ambassador, not as the council president.

French fuel tanker hijacked by pirates

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Pirates hijacked a French-owned fuel tanker off Ivory Coast, abducting 17 sailors in the latest attack by criminal gangs targeting the ships to steal their valuable cargo, officials said Monday. Meanwhile, a sailor died in a similar attack Monday near Nigeria’s largest city.

The M/T Gascogne had offloaded some of the diesel fuel in its hold before the attack Sunday off the coast of Abidjan, according to a statement by Ivory Coast’s Transportation Ministry. Pirates overpowered the crew of the vessel, which included seven sailors from Togo, four from Benin, two from Ivory Coast, two from Senegal and one apiece from China and South Korea, the ministry said.

On Monday, pirates attacked another oil tanker anchored off Lagos, Nigeria, shooting one of the crew members, said Noel Choong, a spokesman for the International Maritime Bureau in Malaysia. The sailor died while in transit to a local hospital.


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