NATO FOILS PIRATES’ ATTACK ON NORWEIGIAN SHIP


Portuguese warship Corte-Real captured, disarmed and briefly detained 19 pirates armed with high-explosives after they attempted to attack a Norwegian-owned oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden, NATO officials said on Saturday.pirates

Crude oil tanker MV Kition radioed for help on Friday afternoon after a skiff full of pirates brandishing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades approached them, said NATO Lieutenant Commander Alexandre Fernandes from on board the NATO warship.

Heavily armed pirates from Somalia have been attacking vessels in Indian Ocean shipping lanes and the Gulf of Aden, capturing dozens of vessels, kidnapping hundreds of hostages and raking in millions of dollars in ransoms.

“They were about 20 nautical miles south of us and we were the nearest warship, so we immediately scrambled our helicopter,” said Fernandes.

Helicopter pilots Marco Coimbra and Pedro Gomes-Bras spotted the skiff and began tracking the pirates who fled the circling helicopter to the safety of their mothership.

The Portuguese escort frigate began hunting the mothership, a dhow with 19 heavily armed pirates aboard. After a high-speed chase the dhow was intercepted and by evening, eight marines managed to board the vessel.

The special forces discovered four 200g sticks of the chemical high-explosive P4A, four AK-47s and one rocket propelled grenade launcher with nine grenades, Fernandes said.

“It was almost a kilogram of high explosives,” he said. “If used correctly it can open a hole in the hull of a ship and sink her.”

“It is the first time we have spotted high explosives on board a pirate ship, normally they just stick to AK-47s and RPGs,” Fernandes said, adding that he did not think the explosives signaled an escalation in violence.

“They thought they needed it, but an RPG is a more offensive weapon,” he said.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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