Spanish navy arrests 11 suspected Somali pirates

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The Spanish navy Tuesday arrested 11 suspected Somali pirates who had chased a Seychelles-registered fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean, the Spanish defence ministry saud.

The 11 suspects remain aboard the Spanish frigate "Canarias" pending a decision by authorities in the Seychelles, it said in a statement.

The Spanish naval operations centre (COVAM) was alerted by the fishing vessel that it was being pursued by pirates aboard two boats -- a skiff and a whaler -- in the early hours of Tuesday.

Crew on the boat, which included several Spaniards, at the same time fired warning shots to dissuade the pirates.

COVAM contacted the "Canarias", which is part of the European Union's Atalante anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean, and a helicopter from the frigate went to intercept the pirates, the statement said.

"The 'Canarias' managed to capture the skiff with eight suspected pirates on board and found no weapons or material related to piracy, and soon afterwards intercepted the whaler, which had three suspects on board."

The international community is facing difficulties in prosecuting the growing number of pirates off Somalia, a lawless, war-torn country that sits alongside one of the world's most important shipping routes.

Two Somali men are currently on trial in Spain over the hijacking of a Spanish fishing boat in 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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