Danish frigate crew kill 4 suspected pirates off West Africa
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Danish Navy said Thursday that one its frigates, sailing off West African on an international anti-piracy mission, killed four suspected pirates, and injured one in an exchange of gunfire.
The frigate HDMS Esbern Snare reacted Wednesday to information that a vessel was approaching several commercial ships in the Gulf of Guinea off oil-rich Nigeria. The frigate dispatched a Seahawk helicopter, whose crew reported seeing eight men on the vessel with “equipment connected to piracy, including ladders.”
Later Wednesday, the frigate got close enough to the suspected pirate boat to send Danish troops toward it in dinghies. When the suspected pirates did not react to radio calls, the Danes fired warning shots.
The suspected pirates returned the fire and the Danes reacted in “self-defense” and a brief gun exchange ensued, during which four suspected pirates died, the statement from the Danish military said in a statement. No Danes were injured.
After the exchange, the vessel sank and eight suspected pirates were taken onboard Esbern Snare, including one who was wounded, who was given medical treatment, and the bodies of the four who were killed.
The four who survived face preliminary charges of attempted murder. A Copenhagen court held a custody hearing Thursday in their absence and ordered them held for 13 days while authorities investigate the case. In Denmark, preliminary charges are one step short of formal charges.
The frigate with a crew of about 175 arrived in the Gulf of Guinea this month and will be deployed there for five months.
The Gulf of Guinea is one to be the world’s most dangerous with regular ship crew kidnappings. In 2019, the region accounted for more than 90% of global crew member kidnappings.