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Seven pirates captured by the Swedish corvette

(updated May 26 evening) Baptism of fire for the Swedish sailors of Operation Atalanta. On Tuesday morning, they apprehended 7 pirates who had set out to attack, very early at dawn (a habit!), a Greek bulk carrier in the Gulf of Aden, the MV Antonis. An attack carried out using small arms and RPG rockets. The distress signal was picked up by the Swedish Operation Atalanta corvette, HMS Malmö, which was about 9 miles from the ship, and immediately headed towards the area (the smaller-than-frigate corvette can however move quickly at a speed of approximately 30 knots).

Upon visual contact, the Malmö gave a warning shot and flares, following the tried and tested procedure of Atalanta's rules of engagement. The two pirate skiffs then tried to flee. HMS Malmö chased one of the two. It was only after 20 minutes, no doubt feeling the game was lost, that the pirates gave up. They threw some equipment overboard. Machine gun fire was able to immobilize them. A detachment of Swedish sailors was able to approach the skiff and apprehended the suspects. On board, they found two guns, GPS and grappling hooks as well as gasoline reserves. The pirates were “put warm” on the Malmö while awaiting their destination. Either Greece (like the MV Antonis), or Kenya (with the agreement signed by the EU), but not Sweden. “It's not on our cards,” said the ministry's press officer, Anders Jörle.

Early this Tuesday morning suspected pirates attacked a Greek Bulk Carrier in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates fired upon the ship with small arms and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). According to EUNAVFOR HQ “A distress call was picked up by the EU NAVFOR Swedish warship HMS Malmo which immediately proceeded to the area”. Malmo then got visual contact with the attacking skiff and fired warning shots and flares. The skiff stopped after pursuit and was boarded by a Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) sent out from Malmo. On board the skiff some weapons, GPS equipment, grappling hooks and barrels of fuel were found. 7 suspected pirates were captured and are at present being held on board HMS Malmo for further investigation. The merchant vessel attacked was registered at the Maritime Security Center Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)

(photo and map: Swedish Navy)

Update (May 28): The pirates will be handed over to Kenyan authorities under the EUNAVFOR – Kenya agreement. “There is enough evidence – image and video recording, testimonies – to bring them to justice,” said Johan Henningsson, the unit's lawyer, according to the Swedish armed forces. Swedish sailors will accompany the prisoners and may be called upon to testify.

Swedish army video


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).