Friday, February 5, 2010

Big Bad Pirates Strike Again in Somalia Part 2 NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Danish special forces disrupted the takeover by pirates of a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, in a maneuver rarely undertaken by NATO warships, a naval spokesman said.

The crew of the Ariella had seen a skiff approaching their position in the Gulf of Aden early Friday morning with six or seven armed men firing at them, said Cmdr. Dan B. Termansen, the commander of the Danish warship Absalon. The crew ran to the bridge, where the captain sent out a distress call and put the ship on full steam ahead, Termansen said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

Despite the vessel's increased speed and the choppy waters, the pirates balanced a ladder in their tiny boat and crawled up the side of the ship, he said. The first pirate crept through barbed wire the crew had stretched across the ship's freeboard and fired a burst of automatic gunfire into the air. At that point, Termansen said, the ship's crew members locked themselves in a secure room. All are reported safe.

The Ariella's distress call was heard by the Indian warship Tabar, which passed it on to a French plane. The plane confirmed the presence of the pirates on deck, said Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force. The Absalon, which was under NATO command, sent a helicopter to investigate.

"We saw a small boat and fired some warning shots to make it stop," said Termansen.

It was impossible to say whether there were still pirates onboard, said Termansen. The hatches were open. The crew - who were in contact with the Danes by telephone - said they'd seen at least one armed man on deck and had been shot at by others in the skiff.

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