TANZANIA (eTN) – Tanzanian soldiers intercepted a Somali pirate boat along the Indian Ocean and captured one pirate after a heavy exchange of fire.
Reports from the Tanzanian army said Somali pirates attacked an armed navy patrol boat in the Mtwara area, about 400 kilometers south of Tanzania’s capital city of Dar es Salaam. The navy boat was sailing from the southern Tanzania and Mozambique border on Sunday night before the pirates intercepted it with heavy weapons.
The fighting between the pirates and the Tanzanian soldiers took almost a day or more until Monday when one pirate was apprehended and the rest managed to escape to the high waters.
Sources from the Tanzania army headquarters in Dar es Salaam said the captured pirate is under tough interrogation by joint security forces from counter-terrorism and anti-piracy units, which are operating in the Indian Ocean.
Senior spokesperson for the Tanzanian marine forces Steve Buyuya said the Somali pirates attacked the army patrol boat near the Mozambique border in an area where oil and gas firm Ophir Energy has an exploration vessel.
Mr. Buyuya said no killings were reported during the fighting, but two Tanzanian soldiers were wounded. More surveillance is going on to intercept the pirate boat, which managed to escape. He said the navy vessel was pierced with at least 50 bullet holes.
Tanzania has joined other African countries along the Indian Ocean and the European and American joint security units to fight Somali pirates after the European Union called for African nations to share the financial and security burden with Kenya and the Seychelles in safeguarding the Indian Ocean’s eastern coast.
Somali piracy attacks have escalated worldwide in recent years owing almost entirely to increasing numbers of incidents off of the coast of Somalia since the overthrow of Siad Barre’s regime nineteen years ago. In 2008, some 111 vessels were attacked by the pirates, and that number nearly doubled to 217 last year.
Increased piracy on the Tanzanian sea route is jeopardizing commercial shipping and tourist vintage cruise ships. There is a great possibility of experiencing low-shipping traffic with the dwindling of export and import trade within east African nations because of the ongoing problem.
So far, Tanzania is among the trouble spots along the Indian Ocean’s western rim having experienced more than 14 Somali pirate attacks.