Police from Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland have seized 10 pirates during anti-piracy operations in the area between Dhinooda and Garacad villages in Mudug Region, senior officers told Somalia Report.
The fighting began after Puntland police attacked a group of pirates who were planning to join the hijackers of the Italian-flagged MT Enrico Ievoli, anchored off Dhinooda village, 70 kilometres southeast of Garacad, according to officials.
“Police seized 10 pirates and without taking any casualties,” Abdikarim Kayton, chairman of Jariban District, in which Garacad is located, told Somalia Report by phone.
“The pirates were planning to join the hijackers of Italian Vessel MT Enrico Levoli. A number of them are investors while other were staff. Now they are in Garacad police station and soon they will pass to Jariban District, and then to Garowe (Puntland’s capital), where they will soon be brought before a court. Anti-piracy operations are going well, and we have now completely removed pirates from the Garacad area,” he added.
Once a captured vessel has been brought to anchor, is common for pirate hijackers to be joined by the gang’s investors a vessel as well as theIlaalo, a team of armed guards brought on board to guard the hostages.
The captured pirates hail mostly from the Omar Mohamud (a sub-clan of Majeerteen native to the Garacad region). The hijackers were previously believed to belong to the Saad and Saleebaan sub-clans of the Harardheere region.
The MT Enrico Ievoli was hijacked on December 27 off the coast of Oman, while transporting a cargo of caustic soda. She carries a crew of 18, including seven Indians, six Italians, and five Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, Puntland officials told Somalia Report that they had evicted pirates from Bargaal District in Bari region.
“Puntland police and residents worked together to remove pirates from the region,” Ahmed Gurey, chairman of Bargaal District, told Somalia Report.
Bargaal has previously been the site of clashes between pirates and local citizens, who have formed an impromptu militia to combat the pirate menace.
Pirates are still using multiple bases in Puntland, including Eyl, Bargaal, Garacad and Dhinooda, according to sources among the hijackers.
“We know that Puntland forces are now ready to fight us, but we are still in our hubs doing our operations. I don’t think that Puntland police can destroy pirate groups in the region, despite what lies they tell the media,” Aden, a pirate based in Garacad told Somalia Report.
Puntland forces have detained and seized numerous pirates within recent months but have yet to bring them to trial.
Republished with permission, (c) 2012 Somalia Report