NAIROBI, Kenya — Danish special forces stormed a cargo ship Friday after reports that it had been captured by armed Somali pirates, with the forces approaching the vessel in an inflatable dinghy and scaling the side of it, naval spokesmen said.

However, there were conflicting accounts as to whether any of the pirates remained onboard when the special forces arrived. The ship’s 25 crew members had locked themselves in a secure room.

After the vessel Ariella sent out a distress signal early Friday, the Danish warship Absalon sent a helicopter to confirm the presence of pirates, and communicated with the crew to ensure they were in a safe location, said Cmdr. John Harbour, spokesman for the European Union Naval Force.

Ten Danish special forces aboard the Absalon approached the Ariella, said Lt. Col. Wolfgang Schmidt, a spokesman for NATO’s Lisbon-based Joint Command. The forces released the 25 crew from the secure room and continued to search the vessel for the pirates.

Cmdr. Dan B. Termansen, the commander of the Danish warship Absalon, said that crew had reported seeing a pirate firing an automatic weapon onboard their ship.

The crew “saw a skiff approaching and made full speed ahead,” he said. “When they saw the first pirate onboard the deck, they fled to the safe room.”

He could not say whether there were any pirates onboard the ship when he sent the special forces, he said, because the hatches were open and it was unclear where the gunmen had gone.

“I don’t know if he jumped overboard when he saw the helicopter or later when he saw the special forces,” he said. “We searched the ship for hours and didn’t find anybody.”

Read the rest of the AP story here.

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