A South Korean oil tanker was seized by pirates and its crew taken captive on Sunday, the South Korean foreign ministry said.
The Samho Dream was on its way to the United States from Iraq when it was hijacked off east Africa with a crew of five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos, the ministry said in a statement.
A Nairobi-based maritime group said the tanker had been seized by Somali pirates, and a pirate source named Mohamed said the ship was now heading for Haradheere, the port and pirates’ base at which many ships are held during ransom negotiations.
The 319,000 dwt Samho Dream is South Korean-owned and registered in the Marshall Islands.
Sea gangs operating off Somalia have stepped up their attacks in recent months, making tens of millions of dollars in ransom from hijacking vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, often evading foreign navy patrols.