Kuala Lumpur - Pirates have hijacked a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew members off the coast of Somalia, bringing the number of pirate attacks in the troubled region to 95 this year, a maritime watchdog said Wednesday.
The vessel, which was seized Tuesday in the Gulf of Aden, had made a distress call late Monday as it was being chased by pirates in two speedboats, said Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.
However, the phone line got cut. The Thai boat was heading for the Middle East, said Choong. He said the fate of the crew members remains unknown.
Choong said piracy activities continued to increase in the area due to a lack of security. Earlier Tuesday, an Iranian bulk cargo carrier with 25 crew members was seized in the area. On Wednesday, Somali pirates seized a Greek bulk carrier with 25 crew on board. The recent incidents bring the number of attacks in Somali waters this year to 95, with 39 ships hijacked.
Despite increased patrols by a international naval forces, attacks have continued to rise in waters off Somalia, which has had no functioning government since 1991.