(AFP) – Feb 24, 2011
ANTANANARIVO — Madagascan authorities launched a search Thursday for a pirated Comoros-flagged vessel after the ship's captain and two suspected pirates arrived at the Indian Ocean island's shores to seek help.
The MV Zoulfikar was captured by Somali pirates in November while on its way to Tanzania from the Comoros. It had 29 people on board.
On Monday, a total of six people arrived on a small boat at Madagascar's northern Antsiranana port town to seek help. Among them were the MV Zoulfikar's captain and two Somalis suspected to be pirates.
All the six were detained for investigation.
"We have not found the boat. We have circled in planes but we have not spotted anything," said Rolland Rasolofonirina, the coordinator of Madagascar's anti-piracy efforts.
Four spotter planes were being used in the search, said Rasolofonirina.
The vessel was used as a "mother ship" from where pirates launched attacks on other ships after initially being held off Hobyo, a pirate hub in central Somalia.
Rasolofonirina explained that the vessel appeared to have run out of fuel while navigating during a recent tropical cyclone that swept through the region.
The vessel has a nine-member crew and 20 passengers. All on board are from Tanzania, the Comoros and Madagascar.
The arrival of the suspected pirates has baffled Madagascan officials as the sea bandits, who now prowl as far south as near Madagascar and the Seychelles, never dock at shores where they can be arrested.
"We are really surprised. It is the first time we are seeing suspected pirates giving themselves up to authorities," said Rasolofonirina.
Copyright © 2014 AFP. All rights reserved. More »