A British-flagged cargo ship with 25 crew, including eight Bulgarians, has been hijacked 1,000 kilometres off Somalia, according to the Bulgarian foreign ministry. The Asian Glory, which was hijacked on Friday evening, was transporting cars from Singapore to Jedda in Saudi Arabia. As well as the Bulgarians, including the ship's captain, the crew includes Ukrainians, Romanians and Indians, according to Zodiac Shipping, which hired the Bulgarians. The ship is now on the Somali coast and the crew have been able to telephone their families, foreign ministry spokesman Dragovest Goranov said. "They are in good health and they have food and water," he said, without indicating whether a ransom had been demanded. Meanwhile, Somali pirates also seized an Indonesian chemical tanker with 24 crew members in the Gulf of Aden, according to maritime watchdog bodies. The Singapore-flagged Pramoni was captured while en route to India - the third vessel since August to be taken in the region patrolled by foreign navies - said Andrew Mwangura of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Programme. It marked the first attack by Somali pirates this year.
Among the crew of the 20,000 deadweight-tonne Pramoni heading toward Kandla are 17 Indonesians, five Chinese nationals, a Nigerian and a Vietnamese, said Mr Mwangura, adding that the sailors were safe. The European Union's Atalante force confirmed the news, saying: "The ship's master reported on VHF that the ship was hijacked and all the crew are well. The ship is presently heading south towards Somalia."
On Monday, pirates seized the St James Park, a UK-flagged chemical tanker with a crew of 26 from nine different countries, while Yemeni authorities said the same day that a Yemeni freighter with 15 crew members had also been taken. Since the end of the summer monsoon season allowed pirate attacks to resume three months ago, Somali pirates had abandoned the Gulf of Aden for the wide open seas of the Indian Ocean, venturing as far as the Seychelles and beyond.
The latest capture brings to at least 12 ships and about 270 seamen currently held by Somalia pirates. *AFP