US yacht hijacked by Somali pirates
Pirates hijacked the yacht Quest on Friday, two days after a Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
The Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple who have been sailing around the world since December 2004.
Matt Goshko, a spokesman at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, which oversees Somalia, said preliminary reports indicate there are four US citizens aboard the Quest. "All relevant US agencies are monitoring the situation, working to develop further information, assess options and possible responses," Goshko said.
Pirates have increased attacks off the coast of East Africa in recent years, despite an international flotilla of warships dedicated to protecting vessels and stopping the pirate assaults.
Multimillion dollar ransoms are fuelling the trade, and the prices for releasing a ship and hostages have risen sharply. One ransom last year was reported to be $9.5 million.
Pirates currently hold 30 ships and more than 660 hostages, not counting the attack against the Quest.
In November, Paul and Rachel Chandler, a British couple captured by Somalia pirates while sailing in their private yacht off the coast of the Seychelles, were released after 388 days in captivity.