A government minister says Somali gunmen have demanded $1 million for the release of a German couple, their young son and a French boat captain.

The Europeans were seized Monday from a yacht off the Gulf of Aden and taken to Puntland, a semiautonomous region of northern Somalia.

Jama Hirsi Farah, minister of state for security in the region, said Thursday that the kidnappers have demanded $1 million.

The condition of the captives is not clear. A clan elder who is helping negotiate says the boy is suffering from a fever and needs medical help.

Kidnappings and piracy are on the rise in Somalia, where hijackers demand — and often receive — huge ransoms. The 1,880-mile-long coast is overrun with pirates.