Somali Troops Storm Ship Hijacked by Pirates

BOSASSO, Somalia — Somali troops stormed a Dubai-flagged ship Tuesday that had been hijacked off the Horn of Africa, releasing its crew and arresting seven pirates, authorities said.

They pledged to do the same to rescue a Spanish ship held by pirates since the weekend.

"Our troops stormed on to the al-Khaleej and engaged the pirates. There was brief fighting before they defeated them," said Abdirizak Hared, the mayor of Bosasso port.

The al-Khaleej had been carrying food and new cars for sale in Somalia when it was raided by pirates seven kilometers off Bosasso, in the Gulf of Aden on the northeast coast, on Monday.

It was the second rescue mission against pirates operating from the lawless country this month after French commandos swooped to arrest six pirates in the same area.

A surge in hijackings for ransom has made the waters off Somalia some of the world's most dangerous shipping zones.

After the Al-Khaleej was brought into Bosasso port under guard, a Reuters witness saw 16 crew members of Asian origin who appeared safe.

He also saw seven pirates in chains, three of them bleeding. Police escorted them to a waiting van and drove them away under tight security from the port in Puntland region.

The ship, and cars on it, showed bullet marks.