Brussels: Somali pirates seized a freighter with 24 Syrian and Egyptian crew members in the lawless waters of the Gulf of Aden, the EU`s anti-piracy force said, reporting the second pirate capture this week.
The Syria Star, flagged in Saint Vincent and Grenadines, radioed for help on Thursday and "reported that she was under attack from pirates who had climbed onboard and fired shots at the crew", said the European Union NAVFOR Somalia mission.
Helicopters were dispatched and tried to establish contact with the ship, which was carrying a cargo of sugar, but they found only an abandoned skiff nearby containing fuel and ammunition, the force said in a statement.
"When warships arrived on the scene shortly after, the Syria Star had reversed course and was heading South East back towards the Horn of Africa under the control of the pirates, who refused to respond to radio contact."
The vessel`s crew was predominantly Syrian and there were only two Egyptians.
It was the second pirate seizure this week.
On Monday, the sea bandits captured a Panamanian freighter with 23 crew from Egypt, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Aden.
A day later, a Spanish warship foiled an attack on a Norwegian chemical tanker off the Horn of Africa. The vessel was holding seven suspected Somali pirates pending possible prosecution.
This week, a Saudi insurance company said it would pay a USD 20 million ransom to free a hijacked ship and its 14-member crew held hostage for five months.