Danish navy frees pirate hostages

Fourteen hostages have been set free after a Somali pirate vessel was seized by the Danish navy on Sunday.

Officials from Denmark’s armed forces confirmed in a statement that sailors aboard its Absalon warship had arrested 25 piracy suspects and freed all hostages after it successfully gained control of the group’s makeshift vessel near the coast of Somalia. The move comes as part of a NATO-backed counter-piracy scheme, dubbed Ocean Shield.

Spokesman Mikael Bill said on behalf of the Danish military that all the suspects are Somali nationals, adding that the vessel had been fashioned out of fishing boat. The hostages involved are said to be Iranian and Pakistani nationals, according to an official statement.

Carsten Fjord Larsen, commanding officer of the Absalon warship, said of the rescue mission, “The operation went as planned, without casualties to the crew, hostages or pirates,” Reuters reports.

The fishing vessel was carrying a number of smaller skiffs powered by strong outboard motors; authorities say pirates use these to board and hijack other vessels.

Piracy near the Horn of Africa is a significant problem. The practice has wreaked havoc on shipping lanes linking Asia and Europe in recent years, costing millions of euros and putting the lives of thousands of seamen at risk every day.