Nairobi: The Seychelles coastguard repelled
an attack by Somali pirates on Tuesday, destroying two of their
boats during a dramatic high-seas operation that started with
the brazen rescue of 27 fishermen.
The Topaz, one of the Indian Ocean state`s two coastguard
vessels, came under attack from three Somali pirate skiffs
overnight, the coastguard`s commanding officer said in a
"Topaz returned fire, one attack skiff was sunk and the
mother ship exploded and caught fire. The third skiff managed
to escape," the statement said.
"The fate of the pirates on all three vessels is
unknown," it added.
The Topaz yesterday launched a rare and brazen operation
to free six Seychellois fishermen who had been captured by
Somali pirates over the weekend southeast of the archipelago`s
main island of Mahe.
When the Topaz caught up with the pirates, it found the
ransom-hunting bandits heading back towards their base in
Somalia with 21 Iranian fishermen also held hostage.
Despite seeing the 27 hostages being held at gunpoint on
the deck of the hijacked Iranian dhow, the Seychelles
authorities took the decision to attack the pirates after
warning shots proved unsuccessful.
The Topaz unleashed a hail of bullets into the Iranian
boat`s engine compartment, setting it on fire and forcing all
on board to jump into the ocean.
Joel Morgan, the Seychelles` minister of transport and
environment also in charge of anti-piracy, said yesterday that
all hostages were rescued, with only one Iranian seaman
suffering a gunshot wound to the arm.
The wounded seaman was evacuated to Mahe and the Topaz,
slightly delayed by the overnight pirate attack, was expected
to arrive in the port of Victoria with the rest of the
hostages early tomorrow, Morgan said.