Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Spain calls for pirate blockade

One of the Somali captives held in Spain, 12 Oct 09
The Spanish authorities have refused to negotiate the release of the pirates

Spain wants a European Union naval taskforce to blockade three ports in Somalia, known to be used by pirates.

Defence minister Carme Chacon will call for the international force to change its tactics at a meeting next week, Spanish radio reported.

She also called for the international community to track ransom payments made to Somali pirates by shipping firms through intermediaries.

Somali pirates are currently holding 36 Spanish fishermen hostage on a trawler.

The pirates say they will not release any of the fishermen until Spanish authorities release two of their colleagues from custody in Spain.

'Not romantic'

The government in Madrid has refused to negotiate the pirates' release but says they could be transferred to a jail in Somalia if found guilty.

"These are not romantic pirates which some may be led to imagine," said Mrs Chacon.

"They are authentic criminal organisations which are focused on kidnappings of all types; merchant ships, fishing trawlers, ships belonging to the World Food Programme."

The pirates use "mother ships" to get far out to sea, then launch smaller attack-skiffs which home in on vessels plying the busy shipping lanes.

Pirates seized Spanish tuna trawler The Alakrana on 2 October in the Indian Ocean.

A Spanish naval frigate picked up two pirates in a short-range skiff in the same area.

Pirates have since attacked ships further away from shore then ever before.

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