, MOGADISHU, Aug 14 – Police in Somalia’s northern region of Puntland said Friday they have arrested six suspected pirates who were preparing to launch attacks from a coastal village near Bossaso.
"The operation is the biggest of its kind… police arrested pirates with a large quantity of equipment used for attacking ships," Mohamed Said Janaqaf, Puntland’s deputy police commissioner, told reporters in Bossaso.
He said the police also seized a mother ship, five speed boats, spare boat engines, weapons and ammunition, ladders for boarding vessels and a truck loaded with fuel.
"There was a brief exchange of fire but no casualties on either side," Janaqaf said
The commander said the police raid, which came hours after the Puntland authorities met with military officials from NATO’s anti-piracy force off the Somali coast, was part of a range of measures discussed during that meeting.
Puntland is a self-proclaimed Somali state where the Horn of Africa juts out into the ocean and commands access to one of the world’s busiest and most strategic maritime routes.
The majority of the hundreds of attacks carried out by pirates against merchant vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden over the past two years were launched from Puntland.
With no more than six ships still in pirate hands, the region’s seajacking crisis has ebbed to its lowest level in more than a year but experts fear easing monsoon winds could allow a new surge in the coming days.