European Union naval forces have made the first arrest of pirates off Somalia in 2014 following a failed attack on a products tanker.
Five suspected pirates were detained by French forces on Saturday after they reportedly commandeered a dhow.
The five are believed to be responsible for an attack earlier on Friday around 115nm south of Salalah in the Gulf of Aden.
The tanker had issued a distress call to the UK Maritime Trade Operation (UKMTO) on the evening of Friday 17 January, reporting to be under attack.
According to the reports, the attack was repelled by a private armed security team embarked on board the ship. The skiff then headed to a nearby dhow.
A Japanese maritime patrol aircraft and a helicopter from the Japanese naval vessel JS Samidare initially located the dhow.
The EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) flagship FS Siroco was then able to close distance to the dhow and launch their helicopter and boarding team.
“Upon nearing the dhow, the helicopter crew and boarding team observed that people on board the dhow were throwing equipment over board, deepening the suspicion that the dhow was indeed the reported pirate mother-ship,” said an EU NAVFOR spokesman.
“Once the Siroco’s team boarded the dhow, five Somali suspect pirates surrendered and were separated from the dhow’s crew and transferred to FS Siroco for further investigation.
“The master’s initial statement supported the suspicion that his dhow has been pirated and his crew taken hostage several days ago off the coast of Somalia.
“He also stated that the suspect pirates were responsible for the attack on the oil tanker the day before.”
The attack marks the first pirate incident of the year following a false alarm over the hijacking of the general cargo ship Marzooqah, which turned out to be a boarding by Eritrean border guards.
The incident occurred merely days after the IMB issued a report stating that piracy was at its lowest level in six years.
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