Danish: pirates off West Africa suspected of taking hostages



COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Hackers are believed to have taken six hostages from a container ship in international waters of the Gulf of Guinea this week, the Danish military said.

While sailing off West Africa on an international anti-piracy mission, Danish naval frigate HDMS Esbern Snare responded to reports on Monday that a container ship was under attack near from the island of Bioko off Equatorial Guinea.

The frigate dispatched a Seahawk helicopter, which observed several pirates and suspected hostages boarding a skiff parked next to the ship, the Danish military said on Tuesday.

The helicopter crew chased the skiff as it sailed north and noticed people on the small boat throwing objects overboard in an apparent effort to travel faster. However, the aircraft had to stop when it reached the airspace above Nigerian national waters, where it is not cleared to operate.

The Danish frigate subsequently received a message that several crew members remained on board the container ship, including a man with gunshot wounds in the lower leg. He has received medical treatment, has been transferred to the frigate and his condition is stable, the Danish military said.

The Polish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that one of the six crew members kidnapped from the Liberian-registered container ship Tonsberg was a Polish citizen.

Danish military personnel also searched for two other crew members of the container ship who were still missing after the alleged raid. The military did not provide any details about them.

Earlier this month, sailors from HDMS Esbern Snare killed four suspected pirates and injured another in an exchange of gunfire off West Africa.

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