Danish frigate kills four pirates in Gulf of Guinea

The incident took place in international waters, 25 to 30 nautical miles south of Nigeria’s territorial border, a spokesperson said.

The motorboat, spotted by a helicopter deployed by the frigate, was carrying piracy-related equipment, including ladders.

After the frigate fired warning shots, the pirates opened fire on Danish Navy special forces, who in turn shot down four pirates and injured one, the Danish military said in a statement.

The remaining four pirates were taken aboard the frigate and no Danish personnel were injured in the incident, the military said.

It was the first time the frigate had opened fire during its current mission in the Gulf of Guinea, the spokesperson said.

The Gulf of Guinea has been a piracy hotspot for years, but incidents have diminished since national authorities stepped up security efforts with the help of foreign warships.

The U.S., British, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese navies have also sent aid, ships or training forces over the past year to combat piracy after a record 130 sailors were removed from ships in the region in 2020.

Incidents of piracy and armed robbery fell to 28 in the first nine months of 2021, from 46 during the same period in 2020, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Separately, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and opposition MP Jakob Elleman had both planned to visit the frigate during a visit to Ghana on Wednesday and Thursday.

They were not on board during the incident, which Frederiksen said likely avoided attacks on commercial vessels in the Gulf.

The frigate will operate in the region until April next year.

(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen and Libby George in Lagos; Editing by Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood)

Edward K. Thompson