Mogadishu — A boat held by Somali pirates has been freed after a gun battle, fishermen and witnesses said yesterday, claiming several of the pirates were killed. There was no precise information on the boat or the fate of its crew, whether international forces were involved in the rescue, or whether the crew had wrested back control on their own.
However, security sources said the boat was believed to be an Iranian fishing vessel seized earlier this week with 15 crew, held off the central Somali coastline.
“We heard heavy exchange of gunfire… Several of the pirates were killed and a boat they hijacked was freed,” said Muktar Yakub, a fisherman in the Harardhere area, adding the boat had now disappeared from sight of the coast.
Local elder Abdulahi Bare said “seven of the pirates were killed and two others were seriously wounded” but the toll could not be independently confirmed.
Piracy peaked in 2011, when Somali pirates held more than 700 hostages, but rates of attacks have tumbled, partly thanks to the posting of armed guards on boats as well as navy patrols. — AFP.