Sixteen European sailors are being held captive after pirates seized a tugboat in the latest hijacking in the busy Gulf of Aden waterway.
According to NATO officials on a warship in the area, the Italian-owned MV Bucaneer tugboat issued a distress call before communications went silent six minutes later.
A spokesman for the Mombasa-based east African Seafarers’ Assistance programme says the crew, 10 Italians five Romanians and one Croat are believed to be unharmed.
On Friday, one Frenchman and two pirates were killed in a rescue operation by French troops on another vessel captured off Somalia.
Four others, including a child, were freed from the yacht, Tanit, which pirates seized last week.
International interest has been focused on the plight of an American hostage , Richard Phillips, held by four pirates on a lifeboat flanked by US naval warships in a high seas stand-off since Wednesday.
Somali pirates have stepped up attacks recently following a lull earlier this year.
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