NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The European Union's anti-piracy force says Somali pirates have hijacked a cargo ship carrying steel bars and wires off the coast of Somalia.

The force said in a statement that the MV Lugela sent a distress call to its Greek operator Saturday when pirates attacked it about 900 nautical miles east of the Somali pirate den of Eyl.

A short while later, the ship altered its course toward Somalia.

The statement said Saturday that there had been no contact with the ship throughout the incident.

The 4,281-ton-ship, which transited through the Gulf of Aden and had 12 Ukrainians onboard, was headed for the Mauritius.

Somalia's lawlessness during the past 19 years has allowed piracy to thrive off its Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden coastlines.