Nairobi: Somali pirates have released a hijacked Vietnam-owned bulk carrier with 24 crew members on board, a regional maritime official said. The MV Hoang Son Sun, which was seized in January approximately 520 nautical miles South-east of Muscat, Oman, was freed on Friday. The vessel was heading towards Salalah port in Oman where it was scheduled to dock either Monday or Tuesday, the official said.

The 22,800-tonne ship was hijacked on January 17. Its crew members were all Vietnamese nationals.

The Gulf of Aden, a body of water between Somalia and Yemen, is the main sea route between Europe and Asia. About four percent of the world's daily oil supply is shipped through the gulf.

The Horn of Africa nation has been without a functioning government since 1991, and remains one of the world's most violent and lawless countries.