A Spanish vessel has been attacked off the coast of Somalia and its 26 crew held 22/4/08

In spite of the world-wide publicity given to the attack and freeing of French sailing yacht Ponant last week, and the final arrest of six of the pirates, another small vessel has been attacked off the coast of Somalia and its crew held.

A Spanish fishing boat with 26 crew on board has been seized by pirates off Somalia, officials in Spain say. They say the Playa de Bakio – a Basque tuna boat – was attacked about 250 miles (400km) off the coast. The fate of the crew is unknown.

A source from the Basque government’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Food department told Spanish news agency Efe that four armed pirates took control of the boat using grenade launchers. He continued to explain that the crew was made up of 13 Africans and 13 Spaniards, and the boat suffered ‘some damage’ in the attack but is ‘navigable’. The boat is currently heading towards Somalia.

It comes a few days after a Paris court charged six Somalis with taking a French luxury yacht’s crew hostage earlier this month. The yacht’s 30-member crew were held hostage for a week but released after its owners apparently paid a ransom of $2m (£1m; 1.3m euros). The pirates were then picked up by French commandos in a helicopter raid.

Somali coastal waters are among the most hazardous in the world, despite the presence of US navy patrols. Last year, more than 25 ships were seized by pirates in Somali coastal waters.