Seven Seychelles fishermen seized by Somali pirates have been rescued and their captors arrested, Seychelles President James Michel said.
“We rejoice with the families of the seven fishermen, in their freedom. We all look forward to their safe return to Mahe,” Michel said late on Saturday, referring to the largest island.
The fishermen were snatched by Somali pirates on Friday within the Seychelles economic zone. Michel said they were rescued in a joint operation by the island nation’s coast guard, the European Naval Forces, as well as French E3F aircraft, which helped locate the boat as it sailed towards Somalia with the hostages, Reuters reports.
“The rescued fishermen and arrested pirates are on their way to Mahe. We expect them to arrive early on Monday,” said Major Georges Adeline of the Seychelles Coast Guard.
Surveillance planes spotted the 33-foot fishing vessel called Faith 240 nautical miles north of Mahe. Somalia has lacked an effective central government for almost two decades and is awash with weapons. The chaos on land has allowed piracy to boom in the strategic waterways off its shores linking Europe to Asia and Africa.
Somali pirates are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms from seizing ships, including tankers and dry bulkers, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, despite the efforts of foreign navies to clamp down on such attacks.
Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania are bearing the brunt of the banditry and have said they are ready to prosecute pirates arrested by international naval forces patrolling east Africa.