Pirates attack in Gulf of Aden

.MADRID, Spain (AP) – Pirates in the lawless Gulf of Aden fired on a Japanese oil tanker Monday, unleashing hundreds of gallons of fuel into the sea, a day after a Spanish tuna boat was hijacked using rocket-propelled grenades.

The attacks highlight an alarming increase in piracy by well-armed bandits, prompting international demands for better protection of the world’s shipping lanes.

France plans to present a proposal at the United Nations that would create an international “right of pursuit” allowing countries to chase pirates when they try to flee into territorial waters, the French Foreign Ministry said.

The proposal, which comes after a French luxury yacht was hijacked this month, would also urge stronger maritime patrols in high-risk areas.

In the latest incidents, the suspected pirate ship fired on the Japanese tanker, ripping a one-inch hole in the ship that caused the fuel to leak, officials said. The attack helped send crude oil prices to a new record, spiking above $117 a barrel Monday before falling back slightly.

The 150,000-ton tanker was attacked 170 miles off the coast of Yemen while it was heading to Saudi Arabia. No one was injured, its Japanese operator Nippon Yusen K.K. said.

In a separate attack Sunday in the Gulf of Aden, pirates approached the Spanish Playa de Bakio and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades, striking it but causing no serious damage, said an official in Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s office.

Spain sent a frigate to the site of the hijacking. Twenty-six crew members were on board when the pirates forced their way on the ship.