Details about the ship were not officially announced, but media reports say that the hijacked freighter is the Hansa Stavanger from Hamburg, sailing under the German flag with a crew of 24, up to five of whom are German.
Broadcaster ZDF reported that the ship was hijacked on Sunday approximately 400 nautical-miles from the Somalian coastal town of Kismayu. Five pirates are said to be on board the 20,000-tonne vessel.
The attack comes barely a fortnight after another German vessel, the Longchamp, was released by Somalian pirates. The Longchamp and its crew had been held hostage for two months in the Gulf of Aden. Unofficial sources said that a ransom of several million euros had been paid for its safe return.
Under the European anti-pirate operation “Atalanta,” initiated at the beginning of December 2008, the German navy has twice captured pirates off the coast of Somalia. Nine were caught by the frigate Rheinland-Pfalz in March as they attempted to hijack a ship. They were sent to Kenya for trial.