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Would-Be Hijackers Accidentally Attack Anti-Pirate Warship

These Somali pirates picked the wrong ship to hijack.

Hr. Ms. Tromp
Photo: Royal Netherlands Navy / Koninklijke Marine
Hr. Ms. Tromp

Troops aboard the Dutch warship HNLMS Tromp fired warning shots Wednesday off the coast of East Africa as suspected Somali pirates in two small skiffs raced toward their warship, the EU Naval Force said.

After the pirates realized they had made what spokesman Cmdr. John Harbour called a "rather silly mistake," they turned around and fled. EU Naval Force personnel tracked down the two skiffs and a third suspected mothership, finding ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades on board, said Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force.

The two skiffs were destroyed and the pirates were set free on the mothership after it had been cleared of weapons.

"This morning's attack may show a lack of sophistication in the pirate's selection of targets, but it should be a warning to the merchant community that the pirates will try to attack any vessel on the high seas," said Harbour.

The EU Naval Force has disrupted 11 pirate attack groups off the coast of East Africa over the last two weeks as part of a more offensive mindset to stop pirate attacks, Harbour said.

Experts say piracy will continue to be a problem until an effective government is established on Somalia's lawless shores. It has not had a functioning government since a socialist dictatorship dissolved into civil war 19 years ago. The current administration is too busy fighting an Islamic insurgency to tackle the well-armed and well-funded pirate bases along its 1,900-mile (3,100-kilometer) long coastline.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau says Somali pirates captured 47 vessels last year and launched 217 attacks. More than 100 crew are still being held.

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