The raid on the Liberian-flagged ship Moscow University came 24 hours after pirates had taken the ship over and the crew locked itself in a safe room. The vessel is carrying 86,000 tons of crude oil worth about $50 million.
The special forces had been aboard the Russian anti-submarine destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov, which rushed to the scene after Wednesday's seajacking. A helicopter was dispatched to investigate and was fired on by the pirates, EU Naval Force said. The Russian warship returned fire on the pirates, it said.
Special forces troops on the helicopter rappelled down to the Moscow University, Rear Adm. Jan Thornqvist, force commander of the EU Naval Force, told an Associated Press reporter aboard the warship Carlskrona, which on Thursday was 500 miles (800 kilometers) west of Thursday's rescue and was sailing toward Somali waters.
Ten pirates were detained and one pirate was killed, the Russian state news agency ITAR-Tass cited Vladimir Markin as saying. Markin is the spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee. There are wounded pirates, he said without giving details.
Russian officials were preparing for the pirates to be delivered to Moscow to face criminal charges, Markin said.
The crew of the Moscow University had previously told officials they believed the pirates were trying to enter the engine room, Thornqvist said. The ship had been disabled and was not moving. Safe rooms, where crews seek shelter, are typically stocked with food, water and communications equipment and have reinforced doors that can only be opened from the inside.
The ship's owner, Novoship, said the decision to free the ship was made knowing "that the crew was under safe cover inaccessible to the pirates and that the lives and health of the sailors was not threatened by anything."
Cmdr. John Harbour, a spokesman for the EU Naval Force, called the rescue "an excellent operation all around." He said the EU Naval Force had been working at a tactical level with the Russians, and that EU Naval Force personnel talked to the Russian crew by VHF radio. He said the EU had offered support to the Russians.
The attack occurred about 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of the Somali coast as the Moscow University sailed from the Red Sea to China, the ship's owner said. Novoship is a subsidiary of Sovcomflot, which is owned by the Russian government.
The military intervention follows a trend. International military forces have been more aggressively combating piracy. EU Naval Force ships are disrupting pirate groups and destroying their ships at a much higher rate than in previous years. U.S. warships have fired back on pirates and destroyed their boats in several skirmishes in the last several weeks.
In February, Danish special forces prevented the hijacking of a ship after pirates had boarded it. Special forces from the Danish Absalon boarded the Ariella while the crew locked themselves in a secure room.
Still, pirates are holding more than 300 hostages taken from ships off East Africa in the last several months.
On Wednesday, a French prosecutor said a French rescuer was responsible for killing the skipper of a sailboat hijacked by Somali pirates during a rescue operation.
Chief prosecutor Hever Pavy in the western French city of Rennes said investigators found a French military bullet had killed Florent Lemacon in April 2009 when a special intervention team came to rescue his yacht, the Tanit, off the Somali coast.
Four other hostages were saved after a week on the hijacked ship. Three suspected pirates who survived the rescue operation are on trial in France.
|Detained Somali pirates to be sent to Moscow for proceedings ...|