MOGADISHU (Reuters) – A yacht with four Americans on board is believed to have been hijacked in the Arabian Sea, the U.S. embassy in Nairobi said on Saturday.

Pirate gangs plaguing the shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean typically target large merchant ships, with oil tankers the prize catch, but the snatching of foreigners can also yield high ransoms.

"Preliminary reports indicate that a U.S.-flagged vessel tentatively named as the Quest has been hijacked in the Arabian Sea. There were four U.S. citizens on board," an embassy spokesman said.

All relevant U.S. government agencies were monitoring the situation, he added.

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