Armed, private security guards aboard a Spanish trawler repelled an attack by pirates using rocket-propelled grenades in the Indian Ocean yesterday, naval forces and Spanish sources said.
The European Union’s naval mission to the waters off Somalia and the Gulf of Aden said that “earlier yesterday morning, the 2100-tonne Spanish fishing vessel Albacan was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean, AFP reports.
“The Albacan, owned by Albacora, and registered in Cadiz, was fishing half way between the Seychelles and the Kenyan coast (off Mombasa) when it was approached by two pirate skiffs.”
A statement by EU-NAVFOR said one of the skiffs “fired a rocket-propelled grenade that exploded on the deck of the fishing vessel,” but that “private security armed guards” fired back “over the heads of the pirate skiff” and the attackers fled.
“All crewmembers are unharmed,” the naval mission added.
The Spanish fisheries federation said the attack took place at 0730 GMT some 350 nautical miles (650 kilometres) off Kenya, with Spanish media citing an exchange of gunfire and a fire, rapidly extinguished, in the kitchen caused by the grenade.
Last year, 16 Spanish crew members of a tuna trawler, the Alakrana, were held for more than a month by Somali pirates before a four-million-dollar (€2.9 million) ransom was paid.
The Spanish government has authorised the use of armed guards, as opposed to assigning military personnel the way France has, for instance.
Spain will send a navy ship with 100 crew members on board to the region before the end of the month to help patrol the Somali ports from where the pirates depart from, the Spanish defence ministry said.
The country already has a navy frigate and a maritime patrol plane in the Gulf of Aden to help dissuade pirates from attacking ships.