4 May 2009

Somalia: Warship Seizes Suspected Pirates

As the European Union (EU) continues to boost its anti-piracy naval task force, a French warship has arrested more suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean between Kenya and the Seychelles.

The EU's Martime Security Centre announced Sunday that after a Spanish reconnaissance aircraft had spotted a pirate "mother ship" and two small skiffs 500 nautical miles away from Mombasa, the French frigate, FS Nivose, had intercepted them and arrested 11 people.

"Both the skiffs tried to escape," the EU said, "but were stopped by the frigate’s helicopter... Weapons were found and confiscated [and] the suspects were detained. Their further treatment will be decided soon."

The same French ship arrested a group of alleged pirates two weeks ago and handed over the suspects to Kenya for prosecution. The Nivose is one of 11 EU vessels from five nations now patrolling off the Somali coastline. The fleet was reinforced Saturday by a Greek frigate armed with missiles, and a sixth nation - Sweden - will add two corvettes later this month.

Also on Saturday, pirates hijacked a British-owned bulk carrier carrying a load of 35,000 tons of soya about 250 nautical miles south west of the Seychelles. The crew is believed unharmed, the EU reported. There had been an unsuccessful attempt to hijack another ship overnight on Friday.

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