, MADRID, Sep 18 – A trawler from Spain’s Basque region has escaped an attack by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, the regional Basque government said Thursday, making it the fourth such incident this month.
The Basque government did not provide details of the attempted attack, saying only in a statement that it "expresses its concern and solidarity to the family and crew of the Izurdia which has escaped another pirate attack".
Spain’s defence ministry announced Tuesday that private security firms which protect Spanish fishing boats from Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean would now be allowed to use long-range weapons.
But it said Spain could not station its marines on fishing trawlers, as France is doing and as the industry has requested, because Spanish law does not allow the military to be used for protecting private property.
All 17 Spanish fishing trawlers currently operating in the Indian Ocean are from the Basque Country, public television TVE reported.
Many fishermen from the prosperous region bordering France, which has been wracked by decades of separatist violence, have accused Spain’s central government in Madrid of not doing enough to protect them from pirate attacks.
In April 2008 a tuna trawler from the Basque region was captured by pirates in the waters near Somalia and its crew held for six days before being freed.