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More Indians in hijacked Hong Kong ship
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A regional maritime official confirmed Tuesday that 18 Indians were among 22 crew members aboard the hijacked Hong Kong chemical tanker in the Gulf of Aden near Somalia's dangerous waters.

Andrew Mwangura, the East Africa Coordinator of Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) said the MT STOLT VALOR which was seized on Monday, making it the 12th vessel to be hijacked in the pirate-infested waterway since July 20 has 18 Indians, two Filipinos, one Bangladeshi and one Russian.

"The Hong Kong flagged ocean going-vessel MT STOLT VALOR was hijacked by pirates some 38 nautical miles off the Yemen coast," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

"The incidents happened on Monday at around 13:16 hrs local time (1016 GMT) while the ship was under way fro Suez to Mumbai. Hostages aboard the vessel are comprised of 18 Indians, 2 Filipinos, 1 Bangladeshi and 1 Russian," he said. The Hong Kong chemical tanker was hijacked by pirates on Monday, en route to Asia.

Maritime official said the Hong Kong ship was sailing in a maritime security corridor in the gulf patrolled by an international coalition of warships and aircraft when it was attacked.

Pirates have stepped up attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulfof Aden, as Somalia's current transitional government has failed to shackle the pirates in the key commercial shipping lane.

An international maritime organization has sounded the alarm over the upsurge of hijacking incidents on the Gulf of Aden where more than 50 Filipino seafarers have been abducted since July.

The warning was issued by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) which has alerted all vessels to "maintain a strict 24 hour look out" as they pass through the Gulf of Aden, located off the coast of Somalia.

The Gulf of Aden, an important waterway for shipping, is withinthe Arabian Sea. It 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.

(Xinhua News Agency September 16, 2008)

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