Special forces on a Portuguese warship seized explosives from suspected Somali pirates after thwarting an attack on an oil tanker, but later freed the 19 men. Hours later and hundreds of miles away, another band of pirates hijacked a cargo ship, a NATO spokesman said Saturday.
Pirates are now holding 17 ships and about 300 crew, including the Greek-owned cargo ship Ariana, hijacked overnight with its Ukrainian crew.
The attack on the Ariana, about 1,000 miles from the sea corridor NATO guards, and the seizure of explosives from the group that attacked the crude oil tanker MV Kition, may indicate the pirates are adapting their tactics as crews become better trained in counter-piracy measures.
It was the first time NATO forces found pirates armed with raw explosives, Lt. Cmdr. Fernandes said from the Portuguese frigate the Corte-Real, which responded to the attack.
Israeli retaliation leaves two dead
Israeli warplanes Saturday bombed tunnels beneath the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, killing two Palestinian men, after militants fired mortar rounds into Israel from the coastal territory, according to the Israeli military and Palestinian medical workers.
The men were the first fatalities in the conflict between the Hamas militant group and Israel in nearly two months. Witnesses said the men were involved in digging underground passages of the kind used to smuggle weapons and commercial goods into Gaza.
Fighting in and near Gaza has dropped significantly since Israel halted a 22-day air and ground offensive on Jan. 18. The operation damaged Hamas’ military wing, but Israeli officials say weapons smuggling from Egypt has continued.
From wire reports