COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - The Danish navy has intercepted a cargo vessel that Somali pirates had hijacked in the Indian Ocean, freeing 16 of its crew members but two others died during the operation, an official said Tuesday.
The Danes also captured the 17 pirates involved during Monday's operation off the coast of Somalia, said navy spokesman Kenneth Nielsen.
The pirates had used the cargo ship as a mothership from which they sailed out in smaller boats to attack other vessels. It wasn't immediately clear how long the cargo ship had been held by the pirates, or the name of the vessel and its owners. The two fatalities were an Iranian and a Pakistani. The 16 freed crew members also were from Iran or Pakistan.
Nielsen said Denmark's HDMS Absalon intervened to stop the cargo ship when it tried to move away from the Somali coast and "become a threat against the shipping on the open sea."
The Danish forces fired warning shots, but the boat failed to stop, said Nielsen. Danish forces then opened fire on the ship after getting permission from the NATO command that oversees the multinational anti-piracy force in the area. Nielsen said the pirates surrendered and the Danes took control of the ship.