Five Romanian crew members on an Italian tug were captured by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, ‘Corriere della Sera’ reports in its electronic edition, according to Mediafax. At the time of the attack, the 75-metres Buccaneer tug with 16 crew members on board – ten Italians, a Croat and five Romanians – was towing two empty barges along the safe corridor instituted by NATO in the Somali coast region, says representative of the International Carriers Federation Romania Adrian Mihalcioiu. ‘More than, that, it looks like a war ship was nearby’, said Mihalcioiu, who added that the tugboat was sailing from Singapore towards Italy.
The tug is believed to have been hijacked near the Somali coastline, but the exact location is not known. The Foreign Ministry has confirmed the incident as well as the names of four of the Romanian sailors. The crew are said to be unharmed and the authorities hope to hear from the pirates in the coming days. The owner of the Italy-flagged ship said he didn’t want a military intervention to release the crew. ‘I do not want anyone’s life to be endangered. Of course the decision is to be made by the military forces, but I am against a forcible intervention’, said ship owner Silvio Bartolotii, according to AGI news agency.
Five other Romanian sailors have been captured in the last few months – four off Somalia and one off Nigeria. None has been rescued so far.