Somali pirates seized a Chinese cargo ship Monday with 25 people on board, a naval spokesman for the EU's anti-piracy force said, in the first successful attack on a Chinese vessel since the country deployed three naval warships to the region.
Cmdr. John Harbour said that coalition forces had observed at least two pirates on the deck of the De Xin Hai and the cargo ship also was towing two light skiffs used by the pirates behind it. All 25 crew are Chinese, he said.
The attack occurred early Monday in the Indian Ocean about 1,100 kilometers east of the lawless Somali coastline. Harbour said he believed it was the farthest afield the pirates had ever struck.
"We're pushing them further and further afield to get targets," he said, referring to a coalition of navies dedicated to fighting piracy in the region.
Analyst Roger Middleton from British think tank Chatham House said it was unlikely that the Chinese would want to endanger the lives of their crew through direct intervention. French and American navies have both engaged pirates holding hostages, he said, but only when the navies believed the hostages' lives were in imminent danger.