Danish navy rescues Iranian, Pakistani hostages off Somali coast
COPENHAGEN - Agence France-Presse
The Italian destroyer ITS Durand de la Penne, left, escorts the merchant vessel Victoria in this AP file photo.The Danish navy said today it had stopped a pirate ship off the Somali coast, rescuing 12 Iranian and Pakistani hostages and arresting their 16 captors.
"The Danish warship Absalon yesterday [Wednesday] stopped a pirate mother-ship. Sixteen suspected pirates have been arrested. Twelve hostages from Pakistan and Iran have been rescued," the navy said in a statement.
"No one was injured during the operation," navy spokesman Mikael Bill told AFP, adding that nine of the hostages were Pakistani and three were Iranian and that they had been held by the suspected pirates for about a month.
"They were being held on their own boat," a fishing vessel, which the pirates had hijacked and used to attack other ships, Bill explained.
The operation took place Wednesday morning and was quickly over, he said, pointing out that the Absalon, a command and support ship which is part of a NATO-led counter-piracy mission called Ocean Shield, had not needed to use armed force.
The hostages had provided witness testimony onboard the Absalon and had been allowed to sail on on their freed ship, while the pirates were being held on the Danish warship.
"Onboard the mother-ship, Absalon found 16 suspected pirates, who are now being held on Absalon. In addition, 12 people from Pakistan and Iran, who were being held captive on the pirate mother ship for a month, were there," the statement said.
"The rescued hostages have provided witness testimony onboard the Absalon and have now sailed home," it said, adding: "Danish authorities will now investigate whether there is a possibility to prosecute the suspected pirates.
At the end of February, the Absalon stopped another pirate mother-ship, freeing 16 Pakistani and Iranian hostages and capturing 17 pirates, but that operation was not as successful: two other hostages died during the rescue bid.