Two hostages were killed as a Danish warship intercepted a cargo vessel hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast, Denmark’s navy said Tuesday.
The HDMS Absalon was patrolling the Gulf of Aden under NATO command, and had been tailing the hijacked vessel for several days.
Danish forces fired warning shots late Sunday (local time) to try to stop the ship moving away from the coast into the open sea, the Associated Press reported.
When its crew failed to heed the warning the Absalon opened fired on the vessel, forcing the pirates to surrender control of the ship to the Danes.
According to the BBC, there were 17 pirates and 18 hostages on board the hijacked ship. Navy spokesman Kenneth Nielsen declined to give their nationalities.
Two hostages were found seriously wounded and “could not be saved,” the navy said in a statement.
It was not clear how the hostages had been injured. An investigation has been launched into the incident, The Australian reported.
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The Absalon joined the NATO-led Ocean Shield couter-piracy mission off Somalia and the east coast of Africa in November.
The UN estimated earlier this month that there are currently about 3,500 Somali pirates attacking ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, Bloomberg reported.
It is estimated that piracy has cost governments and the shipping industry $6.9 billion last year. Attacks rose to a record high of 237 in 2011, with $160 million worth of ransoms paid for the release of 31 vessels, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report published this month.
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