Somali pirates snatched 77 Thai fishermen Tuesday, their largest single hostage seizure, in an area of the Indian Ocean well outside the zone protected by an international anti-piracy mission.
The fishermen, aboard three vessels, were attacked by pirates about 1,200 miles (2,222 kilometers) from the coast of Somalia, said Commander John Harbour, spokesman for the EU anti-piracy mission Eunavfor.
"It's the furthest east that any attack and any hijacking has taken place, certainly since Eunavfor arrived in the area December 2008," he said.
The crew members seized in the attack, which took place on Sunday, were all Thai, he said, Inquirer.net reported.
The attack took place on the Thai vessels more than 1,900 kilometers east of the African coast, quite close to the Indian coastline.
77 Thais were on board the boats when they were taken.
The European Union's Naval Force Maritime Security Centre has reported the Thai nationals appear to be in the hands of pirates who are now returning to the Somali coast.
Patrols by European and American warships near Somalia have forced the pirates to venture further from their home waters.
Somali pirates are currently holding hostage more than 200 crew members from seized boats, according to Zimbabwe Star.