Somali pirates have seized a Panama-flagged ship and its 15 Indian crew, a group which monitors marine activity off Somalia said on Wednesday.

Ecoterra International said the MT Asphalt Venture was seized in the Indian Ocean early Wednesday morning on its way from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Durban, South Africa.

“Information... says a pirate group from Brava had captured the vessel and is heading towards Harardheere at the Central Somali Indian Ocean coast,” the group said in a statement.

Piracy is rife off the Horn of Africa nation, which has not had a functioning central government since 1991.

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