Suspected Somali Pirates Released to Puntland
Dispatches from the Front:
OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA, March 2, 2009 -- At approximately 5:30 p.m. today, nine Somali nationals, suspected of piracy, were turned over to the Puntland Coast Guard from the U.S. Navy for purposes of their release.
The nine individuals were apprehended in the Gulf of Aden Feb. 12, after the Indian-flagged Motor Vessel Premdivya sent a distress call to all ships in the Gulf of Aden reporting that she had been fired upon at night by a small skiff, and that pirates were attempting to board it.
The nine individuals were stopped in the general vicinity of the Indian motor vessel after the attack and were found to possess weapons and equipment commonly used to facilitate pirate attacks.
While maintaining custody of the Somali nationals, the U.S. Navy evaluated the situation and determined there was inconclusive evidence to support their prosecution. As a result, the nine Somali nationals were transferred to the Puntland Coast Guard to facilitate their safe return to shore. While aboard U.S. Navy ships, the Somali nationals were treated humanely, receiving food and medical care.
Seven suspected pirates are still being held by the U.S. Navy. Those individuals will remain in custody while the details of their transfer are finalized.
Piracy is a global problem that requires international cooperation. The U.S. Navy is committed to supporting operations that counter and deter piracy - and other criminal activities in the maritime environment - to create a lawful maritime order.
(Report from a Combined Maritime Forces Public Affairs news release.)
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