Kidnapped fishermen return

The six Sri Lankan fishermen who were kidnapped by Somali pirates last year, returned to the island this morning, the fisheries department said.

Airport officials said that statements were recorded from the fishermen at the airport before they were handed over to officials from the fisheries department to be reunited with their families.

Last week an EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Spanish warship, ESPS “Infanta Elena” under French command rescued the Sri Lankan fishermen and their fishing vessel from seven suspected pirates.

The Sri Lankan fishing vessel was reportedly being used as a mother-ship to launch attacks against merchant shipping in the region, the EU office in Colombo said.

ESPS Infanta Elena had identified the pirated vessel and after closing in its position 50 miles off the coast of Tanzania.

The rescued fishermen received much needed medical care and were provided food and water while the suspect pirates were arrested by Tanzanian maritime forces.

The Sri Lankan fishermen were handed over to Tanzanian maritime forces close to Dar Es Salaam and the European Union, via its delegation in Tanzania helped to ensure that the crew could quickly make contact with their families.

The EU office in Colombo meanwhile said that as there is currently no agreement on the transfer of suspect pirates between the European Union and Tanzania, the suspect pirates were released by ESPS Infanta Elena to the Somali coast this week.

This is the 10th disruption this year of a Pirate Action Group by an EU Naval Force warship.