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Crew of Hijacked Ship Ruen, Including 7 Bulgarians, Freed with Indian Navy’s Help

The crew of the hijacked Malta-flagged, Bulgarian-owned bulk carrier Ruen, which included seven Bulgarians, was released on Saturday with the help of the Indian Navy, said outgoing Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel, quoted by the Foreign Ministry here on Saturday.

All the sailors are in good health and efforts are being made for their timely return to Bulgaria, said the Ministry.

From now on, we are making efforts for their timely return to Bulgaria, Gabriel added.

Ruen was hijacked by pirates in the Arabian Sea last December. The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has been in close cooperation with all competent institutions, the overseas representations of the Republic of Bulgaria in the region and international partners and has been actively involved in the efforts to release the Bulgarian crew.

On Saturday, the Indian Ambassador in Sofia was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and an additional request was made to the Indian side for assistance and doing everything possible to protect the life and wellbeing of the crew, the Foreign Ministry said.

Earlier on Saturday, an Indian navy warship intercepted the hijacked cargo ship Ruen and ordered the 35 Somali pirates on board to surrender, an Indian navy spokesman said, quoted by Reuters. The ship’s crew consisted of 17 sailors, including seven Bulgarians.

The ship may have been used as a base for the hijacking of a Bangladeshi-flagged cargo ship off the coast of Somalia earlier this week, European Union navies said.

The hijacking of the Ruen was the first successful attempt by Somali pirates since 2017, when a crackdown by international navies halted a series of hijackings in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

At least 17 cases of hijacking, attempted hijacking and suspicious approach to passing ships have been registered by the Indian Navy since December 1, Indian officials said earlier, Reuters reported.