Armed Guards Fight off Pirate Attack

A Danish-owned ship carrying armed guards fought off an attack by pirates off the coast of Yemen on Thursday morning.

According to shipping news website Maritime Denmark, the four pirates reportedly opened fire on the cargo vessel ‘Brattingsborg’, but turned back after a brief fire-fight with the guards.

According to Lars Steen Rasmussen – the managing director of Nordana, the ship’s owner – this was the first time the company had posted guards on a ship.

“We chose to do it this time because it’s a slow-moving ship and the clearance to the waterline is relatively low,” he said.

Because the ‘Brattingsborg’ is registered in Singapore, it did not require permission from Danish authorities to carry armed guards. However, the Danish Shipowners’ Association is reportedly negotiating with the Justice Ministry for permission to carry guards on Danish-flagged ships.

“The attack failed because the guards returned fire,” said association vice-president Jan Fritz Hansen. “That goes to show how necessary it is that we get an agreement about armed guards in place in a hurry.”

The guards were taken on board as the ship passed through the Suez Canal on its way to India carrying a cargo of steel.

The attack comes just over a week after a Danish family and their deckhands were taken captive in the Gulf of Aden, as well as news that Danish naval forces in the area have released some 200 Somalis captured at sea on suspicion of piracy.

In related news, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said representatives from 55 countries meeting in Copenhagen to discuss piracy issues agreed the work underscored the need to begin the construction of prisons to retain pirates in Somalia.

Denmark has already contributed two million kroner to the construction of two prisons in the breakaway republics of Somaliland and Puntland, but according to the Foreign Ministry, more money could be earmarked if the prisons help to reduce the number of attacks.

The two prisons, built with funds from 55 countries, would have a combined capacity of 1,000 prisoners and cost 160 million kroner to build. Denmark currently donates 170 million kroner a year in developmental aid to Somalia.

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