Somali Pirates Wounded Kidnapped Bulgarian Sailor

Diplomacy | June 18, 2010, Friday // 09:21|  views

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Vesela Cherneva, was at Varna’s airport Thursday night to personally meet the 7 Bulgarian sailors, who were released by Somali pirates after nearly 6 months in captivity. Photo by BGNES

A sailor on the hijacked Bulgarian-flagged ship MV Panega, which remains in the hands of the Somali pirates, has been wounded by a ricochet bullet during the attack.

The information was reported by the captain of the released ship “Asian Glory,” Veliko Velikov, who gave an official press conference in the city of Veliko Tarnovo.

The captain said the incident happened during the actual hijacking of MV Panega.

7 of the 8 Bulgarian sailors from the “Asian Glory” ship, who were released recently by the Somali pirates arrived in Bulgaria’s Varna late Thursday. The other one is in Sofia.

Velikov informs he had spoken twice to the MV Panega captain. During one of the conversations, the latter had asked how to find a doctor to take care of a wounded Bulgarian sailor. According to the “Asian Glory” captain, the sailor in question is in good condition.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Vesela Cherneva, who was at Varna’s airport, says the information about the wounded sailor had not been reported over concerns for the safety of the crew.

MV Panega was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden with 15 Bulgarian sailors on board on May 11.

After the release of the eight Bulgarian sailors from the UK-owned “Asian Glory,” and the recent release of the St. James Park tanker, where 5 Bulgarians were held in captivity for more than four months, only the crew of the Bulgarian-flagged ship MV Panega remains in the hands of the Somali pirates.

Velikov confirmed reports of EUNAVFOR Somalia that the pirates used the Asian Glory as a mother ship for hijacking operations. 20 to 30 pirates kept an eye on the kidnapped sailors, rotating every 2 weeks, Velikov explained, adding the food had not been “that bad.”

In the beginning the pirates threatened the prisoners and fired shots in the air to scare them, the captain said, explaining the most difficult time for him, personally, had been from March 7 to April 16 when he had been separated from his crew.

“I don’t even want to tell you how hard, how terrible this was,” Velikov, who is the only kidnapped sailor to give a press conference so far, said.

"Asian Glory" was hijacked on January 1, 2010, almost 1 000 km off the coast of Somalia, with 10 Ukrainians, 8 Bulgarians, 5 Indians, and 2 Romanians on board. It was loaded with 2 405 cars from South Korean shipped from Singapore to Saudi Arabia.

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Tags: Vesela Cherneva, Veliko Velikov, omali pirates, sailors, Asian Glory, hijacked, hijack, Varna


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