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Somali pirates say they have British couple hostage

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Somali pirates kidnapped a British couple who were sailing through the east African Seychelles islands, the latest incident in a week that saw three ships seized off Africa's eastern coast.

The pirates say they will soon issue a ransom demand to the couple's family.

But the family has said that the couple, Rachel and Paul Chandler, were traveling on a "shoestring" budget and cannot afford a hefty ransom payment.

This latest incident helped to underscore that, while hijackings off the Somali coast have become more frequent, so too has the international response become more robust: Naval ships of several countries are speeding to the area where the couple was kidnapped, backed by unmanned drones, while British special forces have been put on standby for a possible rescue mission.

The Chandlers, said to be avid and experienced seafarers, have been sailing around the world for three years. They were on their way to Tanzania last week. But their trip came to an abrupt end Wednesday, when they entered the troubled waters surrounding the Seychelles, known to be frequented by Somali pirates.

The couple has not been heard from since. But the emergency beacon on their yacht, the Lynn Rival, activated near Victoria, the capital of the Seychelles, and the couple seems to have tried to contact their families in London via the Internet, according to the Telegraph.

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