A French warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden off of Somalia has thwarted an attack by pirates, arresting 19 people and seizing assault rifles, two rocket launchers and more than 1,000 litres of oil.
AFP - A French warship Sunday foiled attempts by Somalian pirates in the Gulf of Aden to seize two cargo vessels and intercepted 19 people, the French president's office said.
"Three days after a French vessel thwarted an attack on a Panamanian cargo ship" the frigate Jean de Vienne conducted a "decisive action" against "two new attacks" it said in a statement.
"The 19 Somali pirates who tried to seize the two boats were intercepted," it added, saying they carried weapons, ammunition and material for boarding ships.
"They will be transferred to the Somali authorities," it added.
The French defence ministry said pirates attempted to attack a Croatian and a Panamanian ship and that French forces seized assault rifles, two rocket launchers, and more than 1,000 litres of oil.
On Thursday, a French warship thwarted an attack by pirates, presumed to be Somalis, on a Panamanian-flagged cargo vessel. They arrested eight suspects to be handed over to the Somali authorities.
In October, the French navy handed over nine suspected pirates to the authorities in the breakaway state of Puntland in the northeast of the country.
Another 12 suspected pirates are currently being held in France. They were arrested during two separate operations to free the crew of two French yachts in April and September of last year.
Somalia, which has been ravaged by civil war since 1991, has become a global hotspot for piracy in recent years.
An Islamist militia which briefly controlled most of Somalia in 2006 had all but rooted out piracy but attacks surged again after the hardline movement was ousted by an Ethiopian troop invasion.
More than 100 attacks occurred in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of the lawless Horn of Africa country in 2008 alone.
The pirates have been undeterred by the presence of foreign navies patrolling in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean in a bid to secure one of the world's busiest shipping routes.
Date created : 2009-01-04