28 April 2009

Somalia: Pirate Suspects Caught After Cruise Ship Attack

Nine suspected pirates have been captured north of the Seychelles after an unsuccessful attempt to seize an Italian cruise liner.

The European Union's Maritime Security Centre (MSC) said the pirates were intercepted by a Spanish warship, the Numancia. The suspects, who were "in poor health," were released as a result of lack of evidence, but the Seychelles coastguard then picked them up.

"The capture operation was conducted in co-operation with a... French maritime patrol aircraft and a warship from the Indian Navy which also discovered an abandoned skiff not far from the scene," the MSC said.

The cruise ship, the Melody, was attacked on Saturday night. Armed security guards and the ship's crew repelled the pirates, who approached the ship in a small speedboat, by firing shots into the air and deploying fire hoses against them.

In another incident, the Fairplay shipping news website reported that a Russian tanker crew used fire hoses to chase off pirates in an attempted hijacking on Monday.

"Three pirate boats approached NS Commander in the Indian Ocean, about 120 nautical miles east of the Yemeni island of Socotra," Fairplay said. "The assailants, armed with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, tried to board the tanker and fired at it, but the 23 crew members evaded capture, then turned the hoses on the pirates."

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