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Russian warship helps to thwart pirate attack near Somalia

RIA Novosti

06/02/201006:20

MOSCOW, February 6 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian frigate, the Neustrashimy (Fearless), took part in an operation to thwart a pirate attack on Slovenia's Ariella cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, The Times said on Saturday.

Ariella, with a crew of 15 nationals of the Philippines, seven Ukrainians, a Slovenian, a Bulgarian and an Indian, was en route from the Black Sea port of Sevastopol to Indonesia when it issued a distress call early on Friday.

A skiff with six armed men onboard approached the vessel some 100 miles (160km) north of the Somali coast in the Gulf of Aden. The crew, however, had time to lock themselves in a safe place.

The pirates fled with the approach of the Danish warship Absalon, which was ten miles away. No shooting was reported.

Neustrashimy, in its turn, picked up another skiff with seven pirates, who are believed to be involved in the assault but did not board the Slovenian ship.

The fate of the captured pirates is unclear. They could either be prosecuted by Russia, or handed for prosecution to other states, namely Slovenia, which represents Ariella, or Somalia neighboring states, such as Kenya or the Seychelles.

Pirates based in Somalia, which has been without an effective government since 1991, hijacked more than 35 vessels in 2009, and have already seized two this year.

The Russian Navy has maintained a constant presence off the Horn of Africa, with each fleet dispatching warships on a rotational basis. Russia joined international anti-piracy efforts off the Somali coast in October 2008.

A new task force from Russia's Baltic Fleet, led by the the Neustrashimy, replaced the previous task force, led by the Admiral Chabanenko destroyer from Russia's Northern Fleet, in late January.



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