Spain, Seychelles sign deals to fight piracy in Indian Ocean

14th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spain and the Seychelles on Tuesday signed two agreements aimed at fighting piracy in the Indian Ocean, where Spanish trawlers have been among the regular targets of Somali kidnappers.

The two deals were inked during an official visit by Seychelles President James Michel.

One of them envisages military contacts between the two countries to help in the fight against piracy while the other is a more general "declaration of intent" covering cooperation against piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Unofficial figures show 2009 was the most prolific year for Somali pirates, with more than 200 attacks -- including 68 successful hijackings -- and ransoms believed to exceed 50 million dollars.

Spanish trawlers fishing in the Indian Ocean have been among those regularly targeted.

Last year, a Spanish tuna fishing vessel, the Alakrana, and its crew of 36 were taken hostage for more than a month off the coast of Somalia, where pirates have bases.

They were freed after paying a ransom of four million dollars (three million euros), according to the Somali pirates who had captured them.

© 2010 AFP

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