News24

Somali forces storm 'pirate base'

2012-05-28 11:45

Mogadishu - Police in Somalia's northern Puntland region have arrested several suspected pirates, including a heavily armed gang accused of holding a Danish family hostage last year, officials said on Monday.

Troops from semi-autonomous Puntland attacked the north-eastern pirate base of Hafun on Sunday, arresting 11 men including suspected pirate Mohamed Hassan - known as Dhafoor - and seizing automatic rifles and a machine gun.

"Dhafoor... is a well-known pirate wanted by Puntland authorities for hijacking commercial vessels travelling the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden waterways," Puntland's security forces said in a statement.

The authorities accuse Dhafoor of killing five Puntland security officers during a botched March 2011 operation to release a Danish family he was reportedly holding hostage.

Pirates captured the seven Danes - a family including three teenage children, plus two crew members - in February 2011 during a round-the-world voyage.

They were released in September after the reported payment of a multi-million dollar ransom.

Piracy has flourished off war-torn Somalia, outwitting international efforts to stamp out the scourge, including patrols by warships and tough sentencing of captured pirates.

The pirates are holding dozens of ships and hundreds of sailors for ransom, and have also branched out into land-based kidnapping.