Around 18 Indians are among 22 crewmembers on board a ship that was hijacked by pirates on Monday in the Gulf of Aden near the Somali coast, an official confirmed on Tuesday.
The chemical tanker Mt Stolt Valor was hijacked from the Gulf of Aden near Somalia Monday, Andrew Mwangura, East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said.
This was the 12th vessel to be hijacked by pirates in the region since July 20. Besides Indians, two Philippine citizens, a Bangladeshi and a Russian national were also on board.
"The Mt Stolt Valor, with a Hong Kong flag, was hijacked by pirates some 38 nautical miles off the Yemen coast," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.
"The incident took place at 1016 GMT Monday. There were 18 Indians, two Filipinos, a Bangladeshi and a Russian national on board the vessel when it was hijacked. The ship was on its way to Mumbai," he said.
Officials said the ship was sailing through a security corridor in the gulf patrolled by an international coalition of warships and aircraft when it was attacked.
Of late, pirates have stepped up attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden. Somalia's present transitional government has failed to stop the pirates in the key commercial shipping lane, maritime officials said.
The International Maritime Bureau has sounded an alarm over the upsurge of hijacking incidents in the Gulf of Aden where more than 50 Philippine seafarers have been abducted since July.
The alert stipulates 24-hour vigil as they pass through the Gulf of Aden.
The Gulf of Aden is between Yemen on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. It connects with the Red Sea through the Babel Mandeb strait in the northwest.
It is an important shipping lane in the Arabian Sea.