Madagascar navy rescues pirates
Antananarivo - Madagascar's navy on Sunday towed into Antsiranana port a hijacked Comoros-flagged vessel almost a week after its captain and two suspected pirates arrived on the island to seek help, an official said.
The MV Zoulfikar was captured by Somali pirates in November while on its way to Tanzania from the Comoros. It had 29 people on board - 20 passengers and nine crew.
On Monday, six people arrived on a small boat at Madagascar's northern Antsiranana port to seek help. Among them were the MV Zoulfikar's captain and two Somalis suspected to be pirates.
All the six were detained for investigation.
"It was a rescue operation. There were no clashes. The suspected pirates were not armed and they gave themselves up immediately," Rolland Rasolofonirina, the co-ordinator of Madagascar's anti-piracy efforts told AFP.
"There were 37 people on board, 12 of whom are suspected pirates. The 25 passengers are from Madagascar, Tanzania and the Comoros and three of them are women," Rasolofonirina said.
The three women, weakened by their four months in the hands of the pirates, were given medical treatment as soon as they were transferred to the Madagascar rescue boat.
All of those aboard are being detained by the authorities in Antsiranana's military port.
"We are in the process of deciding on the procedure to be followed... so that prosecutions can take place," Rasolofonirina said.
On February 21, six people, including two pirates and the ship's captain, put out in a small boat to seek help, saying the MV Zoulfikar had run out of fuel and was adrift.
After three days of searching the Madagascar authorities, with the help of the EU anti-piracy mission Atalante, found the vessel and set up a rescue operation.
"The vessel was 70 nautical miles east of Cape Amber," Rasolofonirina said, referring to the northernmost tip of the Indian Ocean island.
"They had run out of fuel and had only 30 litres of freshwater left," he said.