* Navy vessel helps capture Somali pirates
* Pirates targeting expatriate workers
By Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DAR ES SALAAM, Oct 4 Tanzania has arrested seven
suspected Somali pirates after an attack on an oil and gas
exploration ship operated by Brazilian petroleum company
Petrobras off the coast of the east African country.
The incident followed the separate abductions of two Western
women in neighbouring Kenya in less than one month. The
kidnappers escaped by speedboat to Somalia's southern
rebel-controlled tip that borders Kenya's northern border.
"The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) ... has
received reports of an attack on an exploration vessel known as
the Ocean Rig Poseidon," Tanzania's Registrar of Ships said in a
statement on Tuesday.
"In the incident, seven pirates in a small boat attacked the
ship with weapons. Security personnel on the ship with the help
of the Tanzanian navy returned fire and managed to subdue and
arrest the pirates."
The incident, which officials said occurred late on Monday
about 82 nautical miles from the capital Dar es Salaam, brings
to 18 the total number of pirates arrested in Tanzania following
attacks in its Indian Ocean territorial waters.
Tanzania in April ordered its army to escort ships searching
for oil and gas off its coast to protect them from Somali
pirates, who are suspected of kidnapping expatriate workers on
exploration ships for hefty ransoms.
Analysts had warned Somali pirates were likely to turn to
softer targets, such as tourists in Kenya, in response to more
robust defense of merchant vessels by private security guards.
Somalia's al Shabaab militants have also escalated their
attacks in the lawless Horn of Africa nation, killing at least
70 people in an attack in Mogadishu on Tuesday.
Petrobras has a production sharing agreement licence for
Block 5 and 6 deep offshore basin off Tanzania and launched the
Poseidon ship's exploration work in Mtwara, southeast of
Tanzania, in September.
The Brazilian firm, which has invested $11 million in
Tanzania, and plans to spend another $14 million to develop
Mtwara port, said the ship would carry out exploration for a
duration of 20 months.
The East African country has licensed at least 17
international companies to look for offshore and onshore energy
(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Yara Bayoumy)