Somali pirates have captured a Panama-flagged merchant ship with its crew of 21 Filipinos, a regional maritime group said and a European naval patrol force in the region said on Wednesday.
Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya-based East Africa Seafarers' Assistance Programme said the ship, MV Voc Daisy, was taken in the early hours of Wednesday, some 190 miles southeast of the Omani port of Salalah.
He said the bulk carrier had been sailing from the United Arab Emirates to an unspecified port on the Suez Canal.
The European Union naval patrol force in the region confirmed the seizure of the 47,183 dwt ship on its website.
It was not immediately clear what it was carrying.
Maritime experts say Somali pirates have stepped up attacks in recent days, largely due to good weather that favours their operations.
Three Thai fishing vessels were seized over the weekend and several unsuccessful attacks have been carried out since then.
The sea gangs have extended their reach southwards and towards India to avoid a flotilla of foreign navies patrolling the waters off Somalia.
One such Somali group lost its way when returning to the pirate lair of Hobyo from the Seychelles but instead found themselves in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa.
Abdulkhadir Jim'ale, who returned to his home town Galkayo at the weekend, told Reuters the gang was returning from Seychelles after a failed trip to hunt commercial ships in the Indian Ocean, because they had run out of supplies.
"We had been in the high seas for a few days when we run out of food and drinking water. We decided to head back to Hobyo but at midnight, we found ourselves in a shiny city with lights. 'This is not Hobyo', I told my friends," Jim'ale said.
"It was Mombasa. We threw our guns into the sea, left the boat at the beach and sneaked into the city in the dark."
Four of his colleagues made their way back to Somalia but three are still missing.
Jim'ale was one of 23 suspected Somalis pirates released by Seychelles in September.
"I am going back to Hobyo, I am not leaving my job," he said.
ReutersLast Mod: 21 Nisan 2010, 13:48