- The Seychelles Coast Guard has captured nine suspected Somali pirates during a patrol by European and Indian naval forces, officials have confirmed today. The men are suspected of attacking an Italian cruise ship, the MSC Melody, on 26 April, in an area about 200 nautical miles north from the main islands of the Seychelles archipelago.
The officials said a Spanish navy boat intercepted a small boat carrying nine suspected Somali pirates, saying with the help of French, Indian and Seychelles naval forces the boat was followed and successfully seized on Monday afternoon.
The officials said the ship was attacked on Sunday, then it simultaneously sent out an SOS, leading to the international response.
President James Michel said international cooperation was the key to fighting piracy at sea and that there was a need for continued vigilance in the area as it has been the pirates strongest posts.
President Michel said although the attack took place far away from the Seychelles islands and posed no danger to its citizens, it is imperative that the territorial waters of the Seychelles remain safe for all leisure, fishing and commercial vessels passing through the area.
Incident Operations Officer of the Seychelles Coast Guard, Captain Jean Attala said that the news of the attack on the luxury cruise liner, MSC Melody, was received in the early hours of 26 April, saying three aircrafts were then deployed, a French surveillance plane Falcon, a Spanish helicopter from the warship Numancia, and a Seychelles Coast Guard aircraft, and started a search for the pirate boat, given precise coordiantes by the MSC Melody during its attack.
“The Seychelles plane sighted the pirates, and then each plane took turn in marking the target by staying in the air, until the other unit arrived on scene to relieve the other,” said Captain Attala.
The men are now in detention in a prison cell of the Seychelles police force, and are expected to be charged and tried in the Seychelles.
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