Somali pirates hijack UK-flagged ship

Tsvetelia Ilieva,Adrian Croft,Reuters
Saturday 02 January 2010 12:39

Somali pirates hijacked a British-flagged vehicle carrier off the Somali coast late last night, the Bulgarian foreign ministry said.

The Asian Glory was seized about 600 miles east of the Somali coast before it joined a convoy heading for the Gulf of Aden, ministry spokesman Dragovest Goranov said.

Somali pirates have made tens of millions of dollars from seizing ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, linking Europe to Asia, and are also hunting far into the Indian Ocean to evade foreign navies sent to protect commercial shipping.

The European Union's counter-piracy force, EU Navfor and the British Foreign Office confirmed that the British-flagged Asian Glory had been seized by pirates in the Indian Ocean on Friday.

Navfor spokesman Commander John Harbour said the ship was well outside Navfor's area of operation when seized.

It has 25 crew members - eight Bulgarian, 10 Ukrainian, five Indian, two Romanian, he said.

Harbour said the ship had been seized by pirates but he could not confirm they were Somalis. He did not know where the ship was heading.

An official at the Bulgarian office of the British company Zodiac, which manages the 45,000 tonne ship, said it was travelling from Singapore to Saudi Arabia.

"One of the sailors managed to call the British management company and say the ship was hijacked, but that the crew were in good health and were not injured," Prodan Radanov said.

On Wednesday, Somali pirates hijacked a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden.

Another British-flagged ship, the chemical tanker St James Park, which was seized on Monday in the Gulf of Aden, had arrived off the pirate stronghold of Hobyo, Harbour said.

The ship has a crew of 26, including three from the Philippines, three Russians, one Georgian, two Romanians, five Bulgarians, two Ukrainians, one Polish, six Indians and three Turks.

On Dec 28, another cargo ship were also seized, underlining the risk to shipping on some of the world's busiest maritime trade routes. The pirates hold more than 10 vessels.

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