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March 24, 2010

Pirate found dead after shoot out with security team

The bullet-ridden body of a pirate was found after a shoot out between would-be hijackers and a private security detail embarked on the Panamanian-flagged general cargo ship MV, which is managed by Biyat International of Dubai and registered to Shahmir Maritime, which uses the same PO Box address as Biyat

The 1979-built, 2,886 dwt Almezaan was 60 miles (97 km) south of Haradheere, en route to Mogadishu, when it was attacked. This was not its first encounter with pirates. According to one report, Almezaan, which is managed by Biyat International of Dubai, is regularly chartered by Somali businessmen to ferry goods from Dubai to Mogadishu. It was seized by pirates in May last year and held for one week. Then, in November, it was seized again and held for two weeks. This time, though, the owners had embarked private security guards.

According to EU NAVFOR, early on the morning of Tuesday 23 March, an EU NAVFOR warship received a distress call from a merchant ship off the Somalia coast and proceeded at high speed to assist.

The Almezaan was under attack. The 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.

"The EU NAVFOR frigate ESPS Navarra, from the Spanish Navy, was dispatched by the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero of the Italian Navy, and raced to the scene of the incident," says EU NAVFOR. "She launched her helicopter, quickly locating the Almezaan and the piratesŐ boats, known as skiffs. When the suspects failed to heed the helicopterŐs instructions to stop, warning shots were fired by the aircraft, after which a team from Navarra boarded a skiff.

"There were three boats, comprising one mother ship and two pirate skiffs. In the first skiff they found three suspected pirates and, in the second, three suspects and a fourth individual, who had died.

"The body has been transferred to Navarra, and an investigation indicated that the individual had died from small caliber gunshot wounds. The mother ship has now been destroyed and the remaining six suspects have been taken onboard the Navarra."

A Spanish Ministry of Defense statement notes that the pirate skiffs had numerous bullet holes and that weapons and ammunition of various calibers were on board. The Spanish statement says that the representative in Mombasa, Kenya, of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has been requested to collect the corpse and that the owner of the Almezaan is being asked to bring charges of attempted kidnapping against the suspects, so that they can be put on trial in either Kenya or the Seychelles under the EU's agreements with those countries.

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