Pirates captured a Danish yacht with a family on board including three children, Denmark's government announced Monday.
The sailboat, carrying the parents, two crew members and three children aged 12 to 16, was crossing the Indian Ocean when pirates hijacked it.
The ship sent a distress signal on Thursday, two days after Somali pirates killed four American hostages. That was the first time Americans had been killed in pirate attacks since the piracy crisis began six years ago, AP reports.
This is thought to be the first time pirates have taken children hostage.
"It is almost unbearable to think that there are children involved, and I can only sharply denounce the pirates' actions," said Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen. She said she was "deeply concerned" about the situation.
The family was on a two-year round-the-world tour that was to end in mid-2011.
The American hostages were taken when their yacht was hijacked off the coast of Oman. GlobalPost senior correspondent Tristan McConnell reported that U.S. military negotiations to secure the release of the two American couples were under way when gunfire broke out aboard the 58-foot yacht.
American soldiers deployed from a nearby warship responded to the shooting and fought their way aboard the Quest killing two pirates and capturing 13 others, McConnell reported. The remains of two other pirates who had died earlier were also found on board the boat.
The Americans were too badly injured to survive when U.S. forces finally reached them.
Piracy has become common off the Horn of Africa, and ransoms have become a main source of revenue for young men who come from Somalia, a country that has not had a functioning government in decades. The pirates usually attack shipping vessels and not family yachts.
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