Four suspected Somali pirates carrying AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade seized a bulk carrier with 21 crew on board today, the fourth ship pirates have seized in less than a week, officials said.
The Panamanian-flagged, Liberian-owned Voc Daisy was taken about 200 miles (300 kilometres) outside the corridor where international warships guard convoys of merchant vessels, said Cmdr John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force.
The hijacking of the Voc Daisy follows an attack on three Thai fishing vessels Sunday. Pirates now hold 15 vessels and 326 crew, according to an Associated Press count.
The Voc Daisy, which had been heading from the United Arab Emirates toward the Suez Canal, was registered with security officials and raised an alarm before the four armed pirates stormed aboard.
It was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden about 200 miles southeast of Oman.
The hijacking of the three Thai vessels Sunday was almost 600 miles (965 kilometres) outside the normal operation area for the EU Naval Force.
Pirates have expanded their range south and east in response to an increase in patrols by European and American warships off the Somali shore.