Romanian officials said a Romanian sailor was on board the cargo ship seized by Yemeni rebels in the Red Sea – while two Bulgarians may also be among captured crew.
Romanian authorities have said a Romanian sailor is among the crew of the Galaxy Leader, the cargo ship captured by Houthi rebels in the Red Sea off Yemen while on its way to India.
“The ship ‘Galaxy Leader’, flying under the flag of the Bahamas, which was sailing in the Red Sea, was captured by Houthi militias and taken near the coast of Yemen. According to information … a Romanian citizen was among the crew members,” said the Foreign Ministry in Bucharest.
The ship’s crew consists of 25 sailors in total. In addition to the Romanian captured by the rebels, two Bulgarian sailors may also be on board.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov said on Sunday on Nova TV that there was unconfirmed information that two unnamed Bulgarian citizens are part of the crew, one of whom was the captain.
“There have been no previous hijackings of ships by the Yemeni Houthi movement. Since they have announced that they will take action against Israeli ships, their demands will likely be political,” Bulgarian Vice Admiral Plamen Manushev, former commander of the navy, said.
Israel said on Sunday that Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured the cargo ship, describing the incident as an “act of Iranian terrorism”. Iran is seen as a major sponsor of the rebels in Yemen who have been fighting the Saudi-backed government since 2014.
However, Israel has denied any official conection to the ship and has said no Israelis were on board. The maritime security company Ambrey said the vessel’s group owner’s parent company is an Israeli businessman.
Houthi rebels said they had not harmed the crew. “We are treating the ship’s crew following Islamic principles and values,” a spokesman for the group said.
They said they had captured the ship in protest against Israel’s action in Gaza.
The ship is operated by a Japanese company, Nippon Yusen. A Japanese government spokesman said Tokyo is appealing to the Houthi rebels while also seeking the help of Saudi, Omani and Iranian authorities to work towards the swift release of the vessel.
Source : Balkan Insight