Special Forces rescue UAE ship from pirates

Crew safe after UAE forces arrest pirates.

Picture shows the oil tanker Arrilah-I   Courtesy of ADNATCO
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ABU DHABI // UAE Special Forces stormed a hijacked Dubai-bound ship yesterday, rescuing the crew and arresting all the pirates who had seized it.

Special counter-terrorism units, with support from the Air Force and Air Defence, as well as the US Fifth Fleet, stormed the MV Arrilah-I, a bulk carrier en route from Australia to Jebel Ali, the Armed Forces General Headquarters said in a statement.

The ship was hijacked in the Arabian Sea, east of Oman, early on Friday.

The military said the vessel was now headed towards Emirati shores, guarded by UAE Special Forces. The pirates will be handed over to the Ministry of Interior once they arrive in Dubai.

The Armed Forces said the rescue showed the UAE's commitment to acting "firmly" in the face of piracy, adding that the country would "not succumb to such threats".

The 37,000-tonne ship is owned by the Abu Dhabi National Tanker Company and the National Gas Shipping Company, two subsidiaries of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc).

"We have been assured that all crew members are safe and in good health," the companies said in a statement on WAM, the state news agency, before the announcement that the rescue had been completed.

"The company management is monitoring the situation closely in co-ordination with relevant government authorities."

The attack was the second on a UAE-flagged ship in recent days. The tanker MV Zirku was hijacked last week by pirates using rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

The UAE is a shareholder of the oil tanker, which is owned by the Kuwaiti government. The European Union EUNAVFOR naval patrol force said at the time the ship was on its way to Singapore from Sudan. It was attacked 250 nautical miles south-east of Salalah, Oman, in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden.

The UAE will host an international conference on fighting piracy later this month.

Pirate attacks are estimated to cost between US$7 billion (Dh25.7bn) and $12bn annually in losses to the global economy, according to a December study by the One Earth Future Foundation.

Last month, the UAE called for a comprehensive international strategy to aid Somalia and fight piracy off the country's coast, as well as the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, saying pirates have inflicted grave damage on international trade and the transfer of humanitarian aid to Africa.

In a statement to the UN Security Council, the UAE, which said it had been harmed by piracy, also called for a mechanism to prosecute and punish captured pirates, measures that have so far eluded the international community.