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Danish family's sailboat hijacked in Indian Ocean

Danish family's sailboat hijacked in Indian Ocean

February 28th, 2011 in News

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Pirates have hijacked a Danish sailboat with four adults and three children aboard as they were crossing the Indian Ocean, Denmark's government said Monday.

Most hostages captured in the pirate-infested waters off East Africa are professional sailors, not families. Pirates are not known to have captured children before.

The Danish Foreign Ministry said the ship sent a distress signal on Thursday. On board was a Danish couple, their three children - aged 12-16 - and two adult crew members, also Danes.

"It has now been confirmed that the sailboat was hijacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean," the ministry said in a statement.

Two days before the Danish sailboat sent the distress signal, four Americans were killed by Somali pirates in a hostage standoff. They were the first Americans slain by Somali pirates since a wave of attacks began six years ago.

Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen said she was "deeply concerned" about the situation and expressed her sympathies to the Danes on the boat and their relatives.

"It is almost unbearable to think that there are children involved and I can only sharply denounce the pirates' actions," Espersen said.

Government officials will do "everything in our power" to help the Danes, she said, but would not be able to release detailed information about their efforts publicly, "since experience shows that it doesn't help in resolving the case."

Danish news agency Ritzau, citing Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Charlotte Slente, said the boat was believed to be heading toward Somalia.