Somali pirates have captured a Taiwanese fishing boat off the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles, a maritime observer said on Saturday.
"Taiwanese fishing vessel Tai Yuan 227 has been taken by pirates off Seychelles. She lost contact two days ago," said Andrew Mwangura, who heads the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme.
Its crew of 26 included nine Chinese and an unspecified number of Kenyans, Mozambicans and Taiwanese, Mwangura said, adding that the hijacking occurred in waters north of the Seychelles.
In a statement, Taiwan's foreign ministry confirmed that the vessel had been seized. It added that contact was made on Friday with the pirates who made an unspecified ransom demand.
The hijacking took to at least 25 the number of ships now held by ransom-seeking pirates, according to Ecoterra International, an environmentalist group monitoring maritime activity in the region.
More than 400 seamen are being held hostage, the highest number since an surge in Somali piracy in 2007.