ANKARA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Three Turkish sailors were among the 26 crew members on board a British-flagged tanker which was hijacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, Turkish officials said on Thursday.
The 8,000-ton St James Park was seized by the pirates on Tuesday when the chemical tanker was sailing en route to Thailand from Spain, the officials were quoted as saying by the semi-official Anatolia news agency.
The tanker was the first merchant vessel to be hijacked in the Gulf of Aden in nearly six months.
The Britain-flagged ship is operated by an Israeli company and the pirates have not yet made any contact with the Israeli company for ransom, officials said.
Hostages captured by pirates usually have to wait for two to three months for ship owners to pay the ransom and secure their freedom, officials added.
Piracy has become rampant off the coast of Africa, especially in the waters near Somalia, which has been without an effective government since 1991.
An estimated 25,000 ships annually cruise the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia's northern coast.
The Gulf of Aden, off the northern coast of Somalia, has the highest risk of piracy in the world. About 25,000 ships use the channel south of Yemen, between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea.