Pirates have seized a sugar cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden and steered it towards the Horn of Africa, EU naval officials say.
Navfor, the EU naval task force combating piracy off Somalia, said it had received a distress signal from the mainly Syrian-crewed MV Syria Star.
Helicopters sent to the scene found an abandoned pirate skiff nearby.
When warships arrived, they saw the cargo ship sailing south-east towards the Horn.
Pirates were in control of the vessel and refused to respond to radio contact, Navfor says.
The 18,838-tonne MV Syria Star, flagged in Saint Vincent and Grenadines, had been sailing west in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor through the Gulf of Aden.
Its crew are 22 Syrians and two Egyptians.
Navfor found fuel and ammunition in the abandoned skiff.
Warships from around the world are patrolling the Indian Ocean in a bid to deter pirate attacks.
Last year, Somali pirates carried out more than 200 hijackings - a record number, according to the Piracy Reporting Center of the International Maritime Bureau