A NATO ship detained 16 suspected pirates on 11 April off Somalia’s east coast after stopping a dhow sailboat which along with its 12-member crew had been taken hostage a month ago.
The HDMS Absalon, a Danish Navy ship, which is part of NATO’s Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield, had spotted an Iranian-flagged dhow during a patrol on Wednesday. The vessel, which was hijacked one month ago, was being used as a mother ship by suspected pirates operating in the area. The Absalon was tasked to intercept the boat.
The Absalon sent a boarding team to search and take control of the dhow. The team detained the 16 suspects and freed the 12-member crew which included nationals from Pakistan and Iran who had been held hostage. The crew was released after questioning. The operation was carried out without the use of arms.
Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun, Commander of NATO’s Counter Piracy Task Force, welcomed the operation.
“I am glad that we successfully disrupted another suspected pirate attack group and freed hostages as well,” he said. “I am sure that our resolute operations discourage the pirates.”
NATO warships and aircraft have been patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa since August 2009 as part of Operation Ocean Shield. Their mission is to contribute to international efforts to counter maritime piracy while participating in capacity building efforts with regional governments. The operation was extended by the North Atlantic Council until the end of 2014 on 19 March 2012.