Somali pirates hijacked a German cargo ship carrying 11 Romanian crew in the Gulf of Aden, the latest seizure by high-seas bandits who are holding hundreds of merchant mariners hostage, officials said Wednesday. The German-owned ship, the MV Victoria, was captured Tuesday afternoon 120 kilometers south of Yemen, said Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based US 5th Fleet. He had no information on the condition of the crew aboard the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged ship. The Gulf of Aden is one of the world's most important shipping lanes, connecting Europe and Asia via the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. It is used by 20,000 ships a year and has become the world's hot spot for pirate attacks. Piracy has exploded off Somalia in recent years as the bandits get million-dollar ransoms or more for each ship they capture. At least 19 ships are now being held by Somali pirates, and about 250 sailors from countries around the world being held hostage in the Gulf of Aden and directly off Somalia's eastern coast.