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Two Hostages Die as Danish Navy Fires at Pirate Ship Off Somalia

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Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Two hostages died as a Danish warship patrolling the Gulf of Aden under NATO command opened fire on a pirate vessel.

There were 17 pirates and 18 hostages on board the ship, the navy said in a statement today, without disclosing nationalities. The two hostages died after sustaining unspecified injuries when navy personnel boarded the ship yesterday. A navy doctor at the scene was unable to save them, according to the statement.

There are about 3,500 Somali pirates attacking vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the United Nations said on Feb 16. Attacks rose to a record 237 last year, with ransoms of $160 million paid to release 31 hijacked vessels, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report released this month.

“The conditions that led to the death of the two hostages aren’t yet known,” the navy said in the statement. “The Danish Military Judge Advocate is now investigating the circumstances.”

The navy said its ship, the Absalon, had been tracking the pirate vessel for several days near the Somali coast. As the pirate ship tried to leave the coast, the warship called on it to stop, firing warning shots. When the pirate ship didn’t respond, the Danish warship opened fire, according to the statement. The vessel had been used as a base by the pirates for attacks in the region, the navy said.

Piracy cost the shipping industry and governments $6.9 billion last year, including $2.7 billion in extra fuel to speed up through the area and $1.27 billion on military operations, according to the One Earth Future Foundation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christian Wienberg in Copenhagen at cwienberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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