A retired British man who was kidnapped by pirates along with his wife told a television station today that the pirates crept aboard his yacht while he was sleeping.
"I was asleep and men with guns came onboard, " Paul Chandler told British television channel ITV news.
Chandler's stepbrother reportedly confirmed that it was Chandler's voice on the call. Chandler also said the couple were forced to sail to Somalia and were now being held captive on a container ship that was hijacked earlier.
The pirates have not officially asked for ransom, Chandler told ITV, but "they kept asking for money and took everything of value on the boat," he said.
British naval officials confirmed the Chandler's yacht, the Lynn Rival, was located off the coast of Somalia.
"Paul and Rachel Chandler were not on board the yacht," said a British Navy spokesman in a statement to ABC News. "We do not have any reason to believe they have been harmed."
The couple were sailing towards Tanzania after leaving the Seychelles islands in East Africa when they sent up a distress signal early Friday. The area is known for its problems with piracy, and the Chandlers reportedly told relatives that they had delayed leaving the Seychelles for a few days because of pirate activity.
Pirates have taken responsibility for abducting the couple and spoken to several news organizations about them.
The pirates have said the hostages are safe, but warn that if naval forces launch a rescue effort similar to the that in the Maersk Alabama hijacking, when the pirates holding Captain Richard Phillips were killed, they will harm the Chandlers.
"They are old and we will take care of them. That is if we are not attacked," one pirate told Reuters. "If warships surround us, we shall point our guns at the British tourists. "
A local fisherman said he saw the couple being taken to a fishing village on the coast of Somalia, according to the Associated Press. The couple's family is also reportedly headed to Tanzania to await news of their release.
The New Frontline in the War Against Piracy
"If I was to give a message to the pirates, I'd say you've got the wrong people," said Jill Marshment, the sister of Paul Chandler, Britain's Press Association reported.
The Lynn Rival is one of four vessels hijacked by pirates in just the last two weeks. Today, the European Union Naval Force reported that a Thai fishing vessel had also been hijacked just north of the Seychelles.
Normally a luxurious tourist destination, recently the Seychelles has become the frontline in fighting piracy. The Seychelles is made up of 115 islands and its territorial waters span over half a million miles. As the European Union, the U.S. and other global naval forces increase patrols in the Gulf of Aden, the pirates have moved their activity further south.
In response, the Seychelles government has turned its military attention towards piracy as well as begun working closely with international naval forces on the issue.
"Seychelles has recently intensified its diplomatic and military cooperation activity in order to strengthen the coordinated approach in the fight against piracy in the region," said Srdjana Janosevic, a government spokesperson, in a statement.
Part of that coordination is working with the United States African Command, known as AFRICOM. Earlier this week AFRICOM and the Seychelles government launched "Operation Ocean Look," a mission where unmanned U.S. drones are launched from the Seychelles to scout the Indian Ocean looking for pirate vessels.
"Right now we anticipate…that it will be a useful or valuable tool to have in the Indian Ocean region," Major Eric Hilliard, a spokesman for AFRICOM, told ABC News.
Hilliard could not confirm exactly how many drones will fly but said he expects at least one a day. The drones are able to stay out and patrol for at least 16 hours at a time.
The patrolling area for piracy in the Indian Ocean is roughly four times the size of Texas and neither the Seychelles government nor AFRICOM expect that the mission will put a stop to piracy, but Hilliard said an aerial scout will greatly help in combating the problem.
"You have people on the ground, people in the oceans, eyes in the sky patrolling," he said.
The drones will have multiple uses, from identifying pirate mother ships from which pirates launch their attacks, to possible help in rescuing and recovering hostages.
On whether the drones were being used to locate and help the Chandlers, Hilliard said he "can't talk specific operational use, but can say that in this case we have not received a request for assistance yet."