Mercs vs. Pirates: Deadly Shootout on the High Seas


For months, shipping firms have been testing ways to repel pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, trying everything from sonic blasters to warning shots. But things have now escalated to lethal force: A Somali pirate was apparently killed yesterday in a gunfight between a cargo ship and a pirate skiff.

According to a news release issued today by the European Union Naval Force Somalia, or NavFor, the Panamanian-flagged cargo ship MV Almezaan came under attack by pirates while sailing to Mogadishu. “An armed private vessel protection detachment on board the ship returned fire, successfully repelling the first attack, but the pirates continued to pursue. A second attack was repelled and the pirates fled the area.”

In response to a distress call from the Almezaan, NavFor sent the Spanish frigate ESPS Navarra (pictured here) to the scene. The Spanish warship located the cargo vessel — as well as the boats belonging to the attackers.

A naval boarding party searched two pirate skiffs. They found six suspected pirates, as well as the body of one individual, dead from what were described as “small caliber gunshot wounds.” All six suspected pirates, as well as the body of their crewmate, were taken aboard the Navarra.

Hiring armed private security to protect against pirate attack is still considered a controversial move. Companies are concerned about liability and insurance issues, and some security consultancies say that the main job of hired guns is to avoid a deadly escalation in the first place.

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