04/09/08 (B463-B) Shabelle. Pas de chômage pour les pirates. Hier c’était un voilier avec des Français, aujourd’hui c’est un navire égyptien. Ils doivent avoir un beau stock de navires de toutes les nationalités près du port d’Eyl. / Somali pirates seize Egyptian ship (En Anglais – Info lecteur)

An Egyptian ship has been seized by pirates on Thursday off Somali coast, officials said.

Shabelle’s reporter Abdiqani Hassan in Puntland says a delegation of officials from the semi-autonomous northern region has gone to Eyl port to investigate.

This hijacking comes after hours the pirates have hijacked a French ship aboard by two French nationals.

The French foreign ministry said two French nationals were aboard the yacht that was seized in the Gulf of Aden, north of the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

The Venezuela-registered Carre d’as — a sixteen-metre leisure boat — was hijacked late Tuesday, a ministry source in Paris told AFP, but it was not immediately clear how many people were aboard the vessel.

In April, French commandos made six arrests in a helicopter raid against pirates after they freed a French yacht’s crew.

The seas off Somalia have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world.

The country has been without a functioning central government for 17 years and has suffered from continual civil strife.

It’s beyond our capacity to tackle this problem

"France firmly condemns this act of piracy and calls for the immediate release of the people held on board this yacht. Our prime concern is the safety of our compatriots," a French foreign ministry statement said.

It said "discretion" was needed in such cases.

French commandos arrested six alleged pirates in April

Sources close to the pirates had earlier reported the hijacking to the BBC Somali service.

It is not clear if there were any other people on board the sailing boat.

Along the coast, attacks against fishing boats, cargo ships and yachts have surged over recent months and foreigners, who can be exchanged for large ransoms, are frequent targets.

Puntland’s Ports Minister Ahmed Saed Ali Nur said the authorities had not made contact with the pirates.

"We don’t have any information about their whereabouts. We haven’t had any contact with the kidnappers. Ransom is not a solution," he told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

He said that pirates in the region had about 10 vessels captive at the moment, adding "it’s beyond our capacity to tackle this problem".

The pirates are well-armed and employ a lot of people, he said.

"The problem is that there no co-operation between different stakeholders.

"You have the ship-owners paying the ransom; on the other side you the international navy present in international waters and they don’t intervene, they didn’t do anything."

In June, the UN Security Council voted to allow countries to send warships into Somalia’s waters to tackle the pirates.

France has troops in nearby Djibouti and also participates in a multi-national naval force that patrols this part of the Indian Ocean.

The six pirates seized by the French military in April were handed over to French justice officials to be tried.