Somali pirates hijacked a cargo ship with 15 Indian crew on board off East Africa, the European Union Naval Force said Wednesday.
The Asphalt Venture lost contact with its owners on Tuesday night, said EU spokesman Lt. Col. Per Klingvall. He could not provide further details of the incident.
The ship was carrying no cargo and was headed from Kenya to South Africa when it was attacked about 175km southeast of the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam. The attack is the second most southerly hijacking this year, said Dryad Maritime Intelligence, a private maritime security company. There have been four attacks off the Tanzanian coast in the past week, the company said.
Somali pirates are currently holding at least 16 ships and more than 300 crew members captive for ransom. Somalia has been riven by civil war for the past 19 years. The lawlessness allows piracy to thrive off Somalia's Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden coastlines because the weak U.N.-backed government is too busy fighting an Islamist insurgency.