AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS : A Dutch Navy vessel on Friday rescued seventeen people who were being held hostage on a suspected pirate dhow off the coast of Somalia, the Dutch Ministry of Defense said. Eleven suspected pirates were taken into custody.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
The Dutch Navy warship Van Amstel came across the dhow when its helicopter carried out a reconnaissance flight in the area. The dhow was pulling two smaller skiffs carrying ladders behind it, but the suspected pirates threw them overboard once they noticed they were discovered.
"The Van Amstel headed to the location and made radio contact. The dhow then stopped," the Dutch Ministry of Defense said in a statement. "With the use of Rhibs, fast motorboats, a special boarding-unit consisting of marines made the ship safe under observation of the (Van Amstel helicopter) Lynx."
The marines took eleven suspected pirates into custody and seized weapons, ammunition and other items which can be used in piracy. The Ministry said it also rescued seventeen hostages although their nationalities were not immediately released and it was unclear when they were taken hostage.
"The freed crew is doing fine considering the circumstances and has continued on their way," thestatement added. "The suspected pirates were transferred to the frigate. At the moment the staff of the European Union mission Atalanta is discussing the possibilities of prosecuting the suspected pirates."
Last month, the Danish Navy warship Absalon freed nine Pakistanis and three Iranians who were being held captive by Somali pirates in the Horn of Africa off the coast of Somalia. Seychelles later agreed to prosecute four of the Somali pirates, but it remains unclear what will happen to the other pirates. Most pirates are eventually released as many countries cannot or do not want to prosecute them.
In February, a similar operation carried out by Absalon resulted in the deaths of two hostages while several others were rescued. But with none of the nearby countries willing to prosecute the pirates, the seventeen suspects involved in the incident were released in April.