Seoul: A South Korean fishing boat with 43 people on board has been seized by Somali pirates off the coast of Kenya, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
The 241-ton crab fishing vessel, which was carrying two South Koreans, two Chinese and 39 Kenyans, was hijacked on October 9 near the Kenyan island of Lamu in the Indian Ocean, the ministry said in a statement.
"We are investigating the exact circumstances surrounding the incident by setting up an emergency team at our embassy in Kenya," it said, without revealing whereabouts of the vessel and crew.
YTN news channel reported that the fishing boat and its crew had been taken to a pirate stronghold in northern Somalia, citing South Korean sources in Kenya.
The latest hijacking came as South Korea increases efforts to counter piracy in international waters.
South Korea has an anti-piracy warship patrolling Somali waters because of a rise in hijackings near the Horn of Africa, a key route leading to the Suez Canal.
In April, a South Korean oil tanker with 24 crew members was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia and has been held since then.
The 300,000-ton ship, the Samho Dream, was on its way from Iraq to the US state of Louisiana with a crew of five South Koreans and 19 Filipinos.
Somali pirates, targeting one of the world`s busiest maritime trade routes, raked in an estimated 60 million dollars in ransoms last year.
A South Korean tuna ship with 25 crew was hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2006. The ship and its crew were released after four months when a ransom was paid.
In 2007, Somali pirates seized two South Korean vessels and 24 crew. The crew were released after six months in captivity.
They hijacked a South Korean cargo ship with 22 sailors in September 2008. The crew were released after the ship`s owner paid a ransom.