Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme said the pirates seized the Greek-managed MV York off Kenya on Saturday afternoon, less than 12 hours after it sailed from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
The European naval force, EU Navfor, said the vessel had a crew of 17, including a German master, two Ukrainians and 14 Filipinos, and was seized 50 miles (80 kms) from Mombasa.
"She was taken at 1730 local time. She was sailing empty after discharging her LPG cargo at the Shimanzi oil terminal in Mombasa," Mwangura told Reuters.
A pirate who identified himself as Hassan told Reuters by telephone that the tanker was now heading for Garad, a pirate base on the coast of central Somalia.
A lack of effective central government in the lawless Horn of Africa nation has allowed piracy to flourish off its shores. Somali pirates are holding 19 vessels with 428 hostages. Typically they earn a ransom for their release.
The vessel has a deadweight of 5,076 tonnes.
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