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October 25th, 2012

NATO Ship Fires On Fishing Boat After Attack By Suspected Pirates

NATO ship fired at a fishing boat  Wednesday off the coast of Somalia in response to attacks from shore and sea by suspected maritime pirates, officials said.

The HNMlS Rotterdam, NATO’s flagship for counter-piracy operations, was preparing to inspect the smaller vessel when fighters aboard it launched their attack. The crew of the Rotterdam returned fire, setting the fishing boat on fire.

Dozens on the smaller boat abandoned ship, and the Rotterdam crew rescued and gave medical attention to at least 25 people. Whether those rescued were fishermen or suspected pirates was unclear, said NATO spokeswoman Shona Lowe. One person was found dead, though it was unclear what caused the death. No one on the NATO vessel was injured, and the ship sustained minor damage.

Lowe said that fishing vessels are often hijacked and used to attack larger ships.

“This shows what our personnel are up against on a daily basis. They don’t know what they are going to face,” Lowe said. “Our ships very often approach fishing dhows just to see how the fishermen are, have they seen any pirates, and just to get an awareness of what’s going on in the vicinity. Are the fisherman able to fish? Have they seen any pirates? So this was just a regular patrol.”

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