Somali security forces regained control of the pirated ship QSM Dubai yesterday morning after a shootout with the hijackers left one crewman dead and another injured. Two members of the Puntland Security Forces were also hurt after they mounted an operation to free the Dubai cargo ship, which was pirated on Wednesday. According to Nato, about 50 Somali troops tracked the pirated vessel, which was Panamanian flagged, as it sailed down the northern coast of Puntland in the Gulf of Aden, and then boarded the ship.
The USS Cole, part of Nato's counter-piracy task force conducting Operation Ocean Shield, was shadowing the QSM Dubai from a distance, although it took no part in the operation. However, a doctor from the Nato warship boarded the vessel after control was regained, offering treatment to the wounded. The ship, which had a crew of 24 from countries including Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh, was carrying sugar when it was seized on Wednesday.
The Minister of Marine Transport and Ports, Said Mohamed Raage, said that authorities decided to free the ship by force after pirates refused pleas to surrender and instead killed the Pakistani captain. He claimed that the security forces engaged in a brief shootout with the pirates before outgunning them, which also left two officers injured. He said all seven pirates were detained. Just last month, private security guards on board a UAE-owned cargo ship, the MV Almezaan, shot dead a pirate attempting to hijack the vessel off the coast of Somalia.
Also in May, six Somali pirates were sentenced to death and six others jailed for 10 years for killing a crew member on board a Yemeni oil tanker. Companies are increasingly using private security firms to protect vessels in the pirate-infested waters near the Horn of Africa. Operation Ocean Shield has recently been extended through 2012. Nato is offering to help countries in the region develop their own capacity to combat piracy.