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Somali Pirates Release 'Asian Glory', Kidnapped Bulgarian Sailors.

Somali pirates have released the hijacked UK-owned ship "Asian Glory", whose crew includes 8 Bulgarian sailors.

The news has been revealed by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, and has been confirmed by the ship operator, UK company Zodiac, and the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

The cargo vessel was set free by its Somali pirate hijackers around noon on Friday, local time. The Asian Glory has set sail for Oman escorted by a British naval ship.

The exact conditions under which the pirates have agreed to release the vessel have not been released. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has not provided any information about the condition of the Bulgarian sailors.

In May, unconfirmed reports by relatives of the Ukrainian crew members said the Somali pirates had taken away the Asian Glory captain, Veliko Velikov, who comes from Bulgaria's Varna, and the rest of the crew had not seen him since March 6.

The "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.

After the release of the eight Bulgarian sailors from Asian Glory, and the recent release of the St. James Park tanker, where five Bulgarians were held in captivity for more than four months, only the 15-member all Bulgarian crew of the Bulgarian-flagged ship MV Panega remain in the hands of the Somali pirates.

Reports of EUNAVFOR Somalia over the past few months said the pirates might have used the Asian Glory as a mother ship for hijacking operations because the vessel was spotted several times in the open seas off the Somali coast.
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Publication:Sofia News Agency
Date:Jun 11, 2010
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