Navies kill pirates in gunbattle

Russian and British forces teamed up and chased down pirates and killed two of them military officials say.

Powered by automated translation

MOGADISHU, Somalia // Russian and British forces teamed up with boats and helicopters to rescue a cargo ship from an attempted hijacking in the Gulf of Aden, then chased down the attackers and killed two of them in a gun battle, military officials say. Russian navy spokesman Capt Igor Dygalo said the Russian missile frigate Neustrashimy and the British frigate HMS Cumberland each sent a helicopter against the pirates as they tried to commandeer a Danish vessel on Tuesday. It was the first action by a Russian warship sent to prevent hijackings off Somalia. The pirates tried to hit the ship with automatic weapons fire and made several attempts to seize it, Capt Dygalo said yesterday on state-run Vesti-24 television. The British military said the Cumberland then sent boats to circle a Yemeni-flagged dhow, a traditional wooden vessel, that apparently had been involved in the attack on the Danish-registered MV Powerful and refused to halt. The crew of the dhow opened fire but surrendered after the British crews returned fire, the military said. A British crew boarded the dhow and found two suspected pirates, believed to be Somalis, had been shot and killed, it said. A Yemeni man also was found wounded and later died despite emergency treatment, according to the British military. It was unclear whether his injuries were as a result of the firefight or a previous incident involving the pirates. Russia sent the Neustrashimy, or Intrepid, to protect Russian ships and crew off Somalias coast after a Ukrainian freighter with three Russians aboard and loaded with battle tanks was hijacked in September. Its captain has died, and the 20 other crew are still being held aboard the MV Faina. Attacks have continued virtually unabated off Somalia, which has had no functioning government since 1991. Turkish maritime officials said that pirates had commandeered the Karagol, a Turkish tanker bound for India, yesterday, 26 kilometres off the coast of Yemen. It was carrying 4,500 tonnes of chemicals and 14 Turkish personnel. The total number of naval attacks off Somalia stood at 83 before the Karagol was seized, with 33 ships hijacked and 12 still in pirates hands, most notably the Ukrainian freighter. Britain yesterday proposed new sanctions against Somalia aimed at stopping its burgeoning pirate trade and lawlessness that threaten a weak UN-backed government. Under the proposal submitted to the UN Security Council, nations would freeze the financial assets of some people and entities, but not money intended for basic expenses such as food and medicine. The council plans to consider the new sanctions next week. Last month it called on all countries with a stake in maritime safety off Somalia to send naval ships and military aircraft to confront growing piracy there. In June, the council unanimously adopted a resolution allowing ships of foreign nations that co-operate with the Somali government to enter its territorial waters for the purpose of repressing acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. About 20,000 ships sail through the Gulf of Aden each year, compared with 13,000 that pass through the Panama Canal and 50,000 that traverse the Strait of Malacca formerly the most pirate-infested waterway in the world. The Indian navy said on Tuesday that its marine commandos operating from a warship prevented pirates from hijacking an Indian merchant vessel in the Gulf of Aden. The move was a significant step for the South Asian giant, which is determined to translate its growing economic strength into global military and political clout. A Nato flotilla of seven vessels is also patrolling the Gulf of Aden to help the US 5th Fleet in antipiracy patrols and to escort cargo vessels. The 5th Fleet said that it has repelled about two dozen pirate attacks since Aug 22. Nato officials said alliance warships have not fended off any attacks on the merchant ships they are protecting. The European Union has approved sending four to six ships backed by aircraft to replace the Nato force in December. The Greek government approved a plan yesterday to contribute a frigate and hold the flotillas rotating command. In addition, a multinational force of warships from Denmark, the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Britain, Pakistan and Canada has carved out a narrow protected shipping corridor off the coast of Somalia. The British military said Tuesdays boarding took place 100km south of the Yemeni coast and suggested it was in that corridor.