16 Spanish ships flee from pirates
Over 50 ships from five countries seek refuge in a Seychelles port after attack.
17 September 2008
BILBAO / MADRID -- Over 50 ships from five countries, including 16 Spanish tuna fishing vessels, are seeking refuge from attacks by pirates in the Seychelles port of Victoria.
Apart from demands by the regional governments of Galicia and the Basque Country for Spanish naval ships to be sent to the area, Eurodeputy Mikel Irujo on Tuesday asked the EU Council of Ministers to offer protection to European crews fishing off the Somali coast.
An attack on Saturday by pirates on a French ship and an attempt to board a Spanish fishing vessel prompted the fishing crews to sail to the Seychelles capital.
Spanish tuna fishermen docked at Victoria expressed increasing frustration at the Spanish government for not offering them protection. They claim that if the navy does not arrive in two weeks, they will lose a year's work.
Earlier this year, the crew of a Spanish boat, the “Playa de Bakio”, was kidnapped off the coast of Somalia. They were released unharmed after a ransom was paid. Spain unsuccessfully attempted to encourage other nations to form a multinational naval force to patrol the area.
Meanwhile, French commandos stormed a luxury yacht on Tuesday to rescue two French tourists who were being held for ransom by heavily armed Somali pirates. In the rescue mission, one pirate was killed and six others taken prisoner.
[El Pais / K. A. / P. L. / Expatica]