Spain Says Pirates Hijack Fishing Boat off Coast of Somalia

Pirates have hijacked a Spanish fishing boat with a crew of 26 off the coast of Somalia, Spain's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

There were no reports of injuries in the seizure Sunday, the ministry said.

It said the vessel is called Playa de Bakio, its crew fishes for tuna and is based in Spain's Basque region.

Spanish media reports said the pirates were demanding money and fired a grenade launcher before boarding the vessel, but the ministry would not confirm those reports.

Spanish National Radio said it contacted the captain early Monday and he said the crew members were fine, the boat was headed toward the Somali coast and "for now there are no problems." It did not give his name.

A Spanish frigate that was in the area was now headed toward the scene of the hijacking, a foreign ministry official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with ministry rules.

The Spanish Embassy in Kenya, which has responsibility for Somalia, has begun "contacts with authorities in the area," the ministry said in a statement released Sunday night.

The Spanish Defense Ministry has contacted countries that have a military presence in the region to seek their help in finding the fishing boat, the ministry said.

Earlier this month Somali pirates seized a French luxury yacht and held 30 people aboard hostage for a week. They were freed in apparent exchange for a ransom payment. French troops captured six of the pirates on April 11 on land in Somalia.