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Cargo ship crew, including Pinoys, seized by Yemen's Huthis 'safe' — Bulgaria

Cargo ship crew, including Pinoys, seized by Yemen's Huthis 'safe' — Bulgaria
Agence France-Presse February 7, 2024

SOFIA, Bulgaria - The crew of the Galaxy Leader cargo ship, captured by Yemen's Huthi rebels in November, are "safe and sound" and will return to Bulgaria soon, authorities in Sofia announced on Tuesday.

Since shortly after the war in Gaza broke out in October, the Huthis have launched a spate of missile and drone attacks on passing commercial ships in the Red Sea which they say are linked to Israel.

The Huthis seized the Galaxy Leader on November 19.

"The information we have ... on the sailors of the Galaxy Leader captured in the Red Sea is that they are well, safe and sound," Transport Minister Georgy Gvozdeykov told private Bulgarian television station bTV.

The crew is staying at a hotel and their return to Bulgaria is being organized, Gvozdeykov added without providing further details.

The Galaxy Leader is owned by a British company, itself owned by an Israeli businessman.

It had been chartered by a Japanese company when it was seized by the Huthis, who said they were acting in "solidarity" with Palestinians trapped in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The fate of the 25 crew members -- who are Bulgarian, Filipino, Ukrainian and Mexican -- had not been made public until now.

In January, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said their release was the subject of discussions with the Huthis.

Negotiations are also underway over the bulk carrier MV Ruena, a Bulgarian ship sailing under Maltese flag which Somali pirates hijacked in December.