, NAIROBI, May 6 – Somali pirates have hijacked a German-owned cargo in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog and a statement from the government of Antigua and Barbuda where the vessel is flagged said on Wednesday.
"The maritime administration of Antigua and Barbuda was advised that the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo vessel the MV Victoria had been hijacked by eight pirates in the Gulf of Aden whilst proceeding towards the Port of Jeddah in the Red Sea," the statement said.
According to Ecoterra International, an environmentalist NGO monitoring piracy and other illegal marine activities in the region, the 146-metre MV Victoria is carrying rice and was hijacked on Tuesday.
The cargo and its crew of 10 was being taken towards the port of Eyl, a key pirate base in the northern Somali breakaway region of Puntland.
According to the Antigua and Barbuda statement, the ship had registered its presence with the European Union’s anti-piracy naval mission Atalanta and had been sailing inside the internationally-recommended transit corridor.
Lieutenant Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet, also confirmed the hijacking and said it took place 75 kilometres (46 miles) south of the Yemeni port of Al-Mukalla.
The latest hijacking brings to at least 20 the number of ships currently being held by Somali pirates. More than 300 crew members are now held to ransom.