Seven men held in incident off Somalia

German naval forces apprehended seven pirates who attacked a German supply tanker off the coast of Somalia, a defence ministry spokesman said. The pirates opened fire on the civilian vessel Spessart yesterday afternoon, but were driven off by a ‘mobile protection element’ on board, the spokesman said.

A German and Greek naval unit in the vicinity gave chase and detained the pirates, who were taken on board the German frigate Rheinland-Pfalz, the spokesman said. The vessels are part of an EU mission set up to counter piracy off the Horn of Africa.

On March 10, Germany handed over over to Kenya nine Somali pirates who attacked a German freighter in the Gulf of Aden.

Sunday’s incident came a day after the release of a German gas tanker hijacked in January by pirates in region. The 100m Longchamp and its crew were able to resume their journey, apparently after a ransom was paid, reports said.