Suspected piracy as ‘unknown force’ seizes Israeli-linked tanker in Gulf of Aden

26 November 2023, 14:44

Central Park tanker
Israel-linked tanker seized by ‘pirates’. Picture: PA

The Central Park, which has 22 crew aboard, is managed by Zodiac Maritime.

An oil tanker linked to Israel has been seized off the coast of Aden, Yemen, by an unknown force, authorities said on Sunday.

The attackers seized the Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden, the company and private intelligence firm Ambrey said.

An American defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, also confirmed the attack took place.

Zodiac called the attack “a suspected piracy incident”.

“Our priority is the safety of our 22 crew onboard,” Zodiac said in a statement. “The Turkish-captained vessel has a multinational crew consisting of a crew of Russian, Vietnamese, Bulgarian, Indian, Georgian and Filipino nationals. The vessel is carrying a full cargo of phosphoric acid.”

London-based Zodiac Maritime is part of Israeli billionaire Eyal Ofer’s Zodiac Group.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Aden is held by forces allied to Yemen’s internationally recognised government and a Saudi-led coalition that has battled Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels for years.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet, which patrols the Middle East, did not immediately respond to questions from the Associated Press.

Ambrey said that it appeared that “US naval forces are engaged in the situation and have asked vessels to stay clear of the area”.

The Central Park seizure comes after a container ship, CMA CGM Symi, owned by an Israeli billionaire came under attack on Friday by a suspected Iranian drone in the Indian Ocean as Israel wages war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an American defence official said on Saturday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not allowed to discuss intelligence matters.

The attacks come as global shipping increasingly finds itself targeted in the weeks-long war that threatens to become a wider regional conflict — even as a truce has halted fighting and Hamas exchanges hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In the Israel-Hamas war, which began with the militants’ October 7 attack, the Houthis seized a vehicle transport ship in the Red Sea off Yemen.

By Press Association

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