Danish navy frees 16 held by pirates, two hostages killed

The Danish Navy said Tuesday it had freed 16 hostages held by pirates off the Somali coast the previous day, but that two more captives were killed in the rescue operation.

"The Danish warship Absalon stopped a pirate mother ship on February 27, 2012. During the operation, two hostages were killed," the Navy said in a statement.

The nationalities of the hostages were not immediately known, nor the circumstances leading to the two deaths.

"Two hostages were found seriously injured, but despite swift assistance from Absalon's doctor, their lives could not be saved," the Navy said.

"We cannot exclude that we may have caused the deaths," Danish Navy captain Steen Engelbrecht Pedersen told news agency Ritzau.

The Danish military has opened an investigation to shed light on the incident, he said.

The Danish warship is part of a NATO-led counter-piracy mission off Somalia and the east coast of Africa.

"The warship had been following the pirate ship for several days. Overnight Sunday to Monday, when the pirates tried to leave the coast, Absalon intervened and stopped the mother ship, before it could pose a threat to shipping in the open sea," it added.

In a separate statement, NATO said 17 pirates were detained.

It said Absalon's crew had used small arms fire to disable and stop the vessel, after warning shots failed.

"Shortly after, the vessel stopped and the suspected pirates were seen dropping their weapons overboard," it said, adding that "the vessel was then boarded by a team from Absalon."

by Rita Daou © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 28, 2012