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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Somali Pirates: Helicopter Attacks Destroy Pirate Ship

Reported here:
It was . . . the black helicopter of doom
Foreign naval forces launched a second raid to destroy a suspected pirate "mother ship" near Hobyo on the Somali coast that they had attacked 24 hours earlier, witnesses said on Friday.

"A military helicopter attacked a boat near Hobyo last night (Thursday). It opened fire on the boat and completely destroyed it but there was no casualty," Abdulahi Jama, a witness, told AFP from Hobyo.

"The boat had been attacked and damaged the night before (Wednesday) when several of its crew were killed but the chopper returned and burned down the boat which had already drifted back to shore," Ahmed Yusuf, a fisherman in Hobyo said.

Witnesses could not identify the helicopter gunship's nationality but believed it was one of the foreign navies patrolling waters off Somalia as part of an anti-piracy operation.

The attack on Wednesday evening left at least four dead and six wounded according to pirate sources who spoke to AFP.

Ecoterra International, an environmental and human rights organisation monitoring maritime activity in the region, confirmed Thursday night's attack.

"The naval helicopter gunship returned, firing two missiles and opened up with heavy nachine-gun fire ... on the vessel," Ecoterra said in a statement.

"The identity of the dhow was established by our local observers as FV AL AFINIYA, which had been trailed by the navies," the group said, confirming that at the time of the second attack no one was on the vessel and there were no further casualties.
FV Al Afiniya is, I believe, an Iranian vessel.

An air of mystery reported here:
Scene from Hobyo?
Most local people, who say the whole coastal town of Hobyo is terrorized and many have left to inland villages, still were not able to clearly identify the attackers. Speculations pointed on Dutch or Skandinavians (Danish, Finish or Norwegian) navies under NATO command, because they are known to destroy the dhows along the coast, or some even suggested that it might have been an attack by the Iranian navy, though they usually only escort their vessels.
It could in the meantime be established that the Dutch and the Danish navy carried out the assoult jointly, though NATO said in a statement only that the Danish warship HDMS Esbern Snare saw a pirated dhow heading toward a known pirate town and came under attack as it investigated. 'Without provocation, the suspected pirates then started to fire on the NATO boarding team,' NATO said. 'As HDMS Esbern Snare returned fire in self defence, the crew put their hands up as if they were surrendering. As the boarding team approached the dhow for the second time, some of the suspected pirates then started to fire again.' The NATO statement did not account for the second attack this evening. The death toll of yesterday's assault has meanwhile risen to six, including one Iranian and five wounded. A humanitarian problem is now also how to free and repatriate the surviving members of the Iranian crew.
UPDATE: More here:
Hobyo( Sunatimes) 14 Iranian hostages arrived in Galkao city central Somalia safely , a day after they survived from an airstrike by suspected Nato naval jets on Hobyo sea port of Galmudug State., one of the Iranian told Sunatimes on Friday

"No sooner we had jumped off the boat, and then Nato naval forces struck it with bombs and destroyed it. We narrowly escaped for our lives. The most horrific scene I remember is that we could see some of the Somali pirates, who were holding us; die before our eyes as we swam towards the shore," said one of the survived Iranian hostages

"In the aftermath of the Nato attack, we traced the Iran hostages down and finally found them out. We took them to Galkao for their safety because of their safety. I am not sure that Nato Naval forces have killed all the Somali Pirates in Hobyo coastal area, but all I can confirm is that innocent local fishermen were hit during the attack," said Hobyo Police Commander Mr Abdiwali Farabadan.

Mohamed Ali, the Galmudug Minister of Fisheries and Resources have vehemently charged foreign Naval forces, patrolling the in the Indian Ocean of raiding the attack on local fishermen under the false pretext of targeting pirates

The Iranian hostages were first kidnapped in Garaad erea but later moved to Hobyo town and Galmudug administration condemns that.
So, in case you are keeping score:
  1. Pirates taking hostages ="condemned"; 
  2. Airstrike on pirates ="vehemently charged . . . false pretext";
  3. Injuries to innocent fishermen = "all NATO's fault";
  4. Fact hostages where were they were = well, apparently, it's not the pirates' fault, nor the fault of the Galmudug "government" nor that of the Galmudug Minister of Fisheries and Resources.
Note that the helicopter attack has morphed into a "naval jet" attack.

UPDATE: Hmmm. Where's Boxer?

110417-N-ZS026-040 ARABIAN SEA (April 17, 2011) The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) conducts a replenishment at sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187). Boxer is underway supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trevor Welsh/Released)

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