Chinese Navy Hands Pirates Over to Somali Authorities
On Friday, a Chinese naval vessel transferred three suspected pirates to the custody of the Somali maritime police in Puntland region. The three alleged pirates had been reported missing after a boarding team from the Chinese frigate Yulin thwarted an attack on the bulker OS 35 last month. Two attackers escaped from the scene and returned home, and they spread word that three associates had been left behind.
The captured suspects include Aw Kombe, a known pirate spokesperson and leader who was also involved in the hijacking of the tanker Aris 13.
Chinese forces defeated two attempted hijackings in April, the attack on the OS 35 and a second on the bulk carrier Alheera. A Somali official told VOA Somalia that the Chinese forces killed two out of a group of nine attackers in the Alheera incident. One more was wounded and six managed to escape unharmed. The official – Ahmed Abdullahi, a spokesman for Puntland's maritime police force – said that villagers had found what they believed to be the bodies of the pirates on the shore.
The Chinese military has expressed pride in the PLA(N)’s anti-piracy operations, hailing the recent interdictions as a sign that China has arrived as a major maritime power. Sr. Col. Yang Yujun of the Ministry of National Defense confirmed the Alheera incident, but did not acknowledge any fatalities. "On April 15, the Chinese guided missile frigate Hengyang verified and expelled pirate suspects and successfully rescued a Panamanian ship," he said at a press briefing late last month.