Pirates seized a French sailing boat off the Somali coast and are holding their occupants hostage, reports said Wednesday. ( dpa )
The French government set up a crisis team to deal with the incident and appealed to the abductors to free the hostages.
Piracy off Somalia's lawless coast has surged in the last three months.
Two Germans seized on a yacht were released recently apparently after a ransom was paid. In April, French commandoes stormed a luxury yacht and arrested six pirates after freeing their hostages.
A delegation of officials from the semi-autonomous northern region of Puntland has gone to Eyl port to investigate the last kidnappings, the BBC reported.
Puntland early this year introduced the deal penalty for piracy and criticized the payment of ransoms, saying it encouraged the pirates.
Somalia's weak transitional government, currently engaged in countering a bloody insurgency, is powerless to stop the pirates from seizing ships and cashing in by demanding a ransom for the release of the ships and their crews.
Pirates, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, use speedboats to pursue their targets.
Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since the overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.
The United Nations Security Council has approved incursions into Somali waters to fight piracy, but warships patrolling the area are no doing enough, according to Puntland Fisheries Minister Ahmed Saed Ali Nur.