By Abela Msikula
The Citizen Correspondent
Dar es Salaam - Eighteen foreign nationals who were rescued from Somali pirates were yesterday handed back to their embassies after arriving in Dar es Salaam in a Dutch navy vessel.
The 17 Iranians and two Pakistanis were taken hostage by four Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia along international trade sea routes, and were rescued by the crew of the Dutch navy’s amphibious ship, the HNLMS Rotterdam, which was en route to Tanzania. The HNLMS Rotterdam is among vessels attached to the Nato Task Force 508. The Citizen got access to Dar es Salaam port yesterday evening and witnessed the Iranians being handed over to Iranian embassy officials by HNLMS Rotterdam’s officers.
One Iranian was reportedly killed in the exchange of fire between the Dutch naval officers and the pirates, according to a Dutch navy official, who declined to give his name and his rank because he was not the crew’s spokesperson. The body of the deceased was preserved in the ship and will be airlifted to Iran on Sunday together with the rescued Iranians. The Pakistanis were handed over to their embassy in Dar es Salaam earlier yesterday and will also be airlifted to Pakistan on Sunday.
|The Iranian dhow, one crew member of which reportedly
died in the exchange of fire with HNLMS Rotterdam
The four Somalis, who are detained in the vessel, would be taken to Netherlands on Sunday to face justice, according to the official.But the Commodore of the HNLMS Rotterdam Ben Bekkering said on Wednesday that the pirates would be flown to Spain for trial.
He had said his men caught two groups of pirates at sea near the coast of Somalia after the vessel came under fire. “We decided to conduct a routine inspection on a dhow close to the Somali coast, but as we approached it they opened fire,” he said.
(The Citizen, Tanzania, 1 November 2012)