The pirate kings of Puntland 
Q&A: Return to Somalia
 Q&A: Piracy in the Gulf of Aden
Timeline: Somalia

Nato's closest ship to the Al Khaliq was eight hours away when the ship was seized.

It now joins six other commercial carriers being held by pirates.

Earlier this week a Chinese cargo ship with 25 crew was taken, with the pirates threatened to kill their hostages if China attempted a rescue operation.

A second carrier, the 32,000-tonne Italian vessel Jolly Rosso, also came under attack in the waters north of the Seychelles on Thursday, but it managed to escape.

Rise in piracy

Incidents off the coast of Somalia rose to 47 during the first nine months of 2009 from 12 in the same period a year ago, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had said on Wednesday.

In the Gulf of Aden there were 100 attacks compared to 51.

Since last year, a fleet of foreign warships has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the busiest maritime trade routes in the world.

The Kuala Lumpur-based watchdog said that globally, 114 vessels had been boarded and 34 hijacked during the first nine months of 2009.

A total of 661 crew members have been taken hostage, with six killed and eight still missing.