A British-flagged cargo ship and a chemical tanker from Singapore have both been hijacked by pirates in the perilous waters off the coast of Somalia, officials said Saturday.
The Asian Glory hijacking happened late Friday roughly 600 miles east of Somalia, said Commander John Harbour, a spokesman with the European Union task force charged with combating piracy off Somalia.
That same day, the Singaporean-flagged Pramoni, a chemical tanker with a crew of 24, was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest waterways.
Harbour said the Asian Glory's crew of 25 appeared to be safe and that the pirates had not yet made contact with the ship's owner, Zodiac Management Agencies.
"The standard procedure for the pirates is to get the ship back to their stronghold and then contact the owner," he said. "I don't know yet where the ship is bound."
He said the ship was bound for, but had not yet entered, the internationally recognized travel corridor patrolled by EUNAVFOR, as the European Union mission is known, when it was hijacked.
"They were still outside the patrolled area," Harbour said.
He said the crew included 10 Ukrainians, nine Bulgarians, five Indians and two Romanians.
A spokesman for Zodiac Management Agencies confirmed the Asian Glory hijacking and said Saturday the crew's families were being notified. Out of concern for the crew's safety, the company said it would limit the information it released.
Zodiac was also hit earlier this week when its ship the St. James Park was hijacked. A statement on the company's Web site indicated Saturday that the vessel is now anchored off the coast of Somalia.
The company said it has not yet been contacted by the pirates holding the St. James Park and its 26-person crew.
There have been repeated acts of piracy against international shipping in the area in recent years despite the deployment of a special EU mission aimed to lessen the danger to international shipping.
Officials said the Pramoni was traveling east toward India when it was seized by pirates on Friday. The ship's master reported on VHF that the crew was safe. The vessel is now heading toward Somalia as well.
By Associated Press Writer Gregory Katz