A Somali pirate has been killed in a skirmish with private security guards on board a UAE-owned cargo off Somalia, in what may be the first pirate fatality attributable to private guards.
AFP - Private security guards on board a UAE-owned cargo ship have repelled a hijacking attempt at sea in skirmishes off Somalia that left one pirate dead, the EU's naval force in the area said Wednesday.
EU Navfor naval force spokesman Commander John Harbour said this was believed to be the first fatality attributable to private security and that an investigation was underway.
"The bullets used were small calibre, and not from Navfor, so the assumption is that the death was caused during an exchange of fire," during the hijack attempt on Tuesday, Harbour told AFP.
Under maritime rules a ship has the right to defend itself in the event of a pirate attack, he added.
Harbour said the pirates had at first withdrawn but had returned for a second attempt, at which stage the private guards had apparently fired on their attackers rather than just firing in the air.
After the exchange of fire the remaining pirates fled the area but were pursued by the Spanish navy frigate Navarra which had been alerted.
When the suspects failed to heed instructions to stop, warning shots were fired, Navfor's Somalia force Atalanta said.
Upon boarding the three pirate ships, the Spanish military captured six men and found the other dead.
"The mother ship has now been destroyed and the remaining six suspects have been taken onboard the Navarra," Navfor said.
Somali pirates have become a chronic hazard for shipping in the region. They hijack vessels exclusively for ransom payments, which are regularly made.
Navfor announced Tuesday that suspected Somalia pirates had seized Turkish and British Virgin Islands-owned cargo ships.
Earlier this week the Spanish ship provided assistance to the crew of an Iranian dhow who had been attacked and robbed by pirates.
A Navfor boarding party provided water, food and fuel to enable the crew to return home safely.
Operation Atalanta's main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Programme and to protect vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Both the pirate attacks and the international naval protection efforts have increased since the end of winter.
Already this month 18 attempted pirate attacks have ben repelled, said Harbour.
Currently eight ships and 152 hostages remain in the hands of pirates in the area.
Date created : 2010-03-24