A European Union naval force captured assailants who fired rocket-propelled grenades at a container ship off Somalia’s coast, highlighting the threat piracy still poses to one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Six crew commanding a whaleboat and skiff were located by helicopter and detained after the attacks on the 52,000 metric-ton container ship and a fishing vessel, the EU Naval Force for Somalia said Sunday in a statement.
A security team on one of the vessels and “good seamanship” meant the assaults caused no damage or injuries, it said.
The suspected pirates have been transferred to the “appropriate authority for prosecution,” said the force, which patrols the seas off the Horn of Africa nation that’s been roiled by three decades of civil war.
Hijackings in the region caused havoc for international shipping from about 2001 to 2012, peaking with 176 attacks in 2011.
While the EU’s anti-piracy mission contributed to the decline, a United Nations official this year warned the threat remains high after the first seizure of a commercial ship off the eastern Africa seaboard in five years.