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Russian, British frigates repel Somalia pirates
Updated: 2008-11-13 15:43

MOSCOW -- A Russian and a British warship joined forces to thwart a pirate attack on a Danish cargo vessel off the coast of Somalia, the Russian navy said on Wednesday.

Map showing where Somali pirates target the main shipping route to the Suez Canal. The European Union launched Monday a security operation off the coast of Somalia, its first-ever naval mission, to combat growing acts of piracy and help protect aid ships. [Agencies]

The frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) from Russia's Baltic Sea Fleet and the British frigate Cumberland repelled the attack on the cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo told state channel Vesti-24.

"The pirates tried to shoot at the vessel with automatic weapons and made several attempts to seize it," Dygalo said. "But thanks to the joint efforts of the Russian and British warships the pirates' actions were disrupted."

A British Royal Navy spokesman said: "We can confirm that a UK warship yesterday carried out a boarding of a foreign flagged dhow, suspected of being engaged in piracy. The situation is ongoing." He gave no further details.

Dygalo said a Russian Ka-27 helicopter and a British Lynx helicopter were involved but gave no details of their mission.

He said the Russian frigate was now escorting several foreign merchant ships in the area, notorious for piracy.

The Royal Navy said on its website that HMS Cumberland was on an operational deployment as part of a NATO group, "reaffirming the Alliance's commitment to fighting piracy in the region."

It said NATO had also sent ships to escort UN World Food Programme ships carrying essential food into Somalian ports.

"Cumberland has been in the area for a week deterring, detecting and disrupting piracy and, if necessary, offering assistance to merchant vessels transiting the region."

Moscow sent the "Neustrashimy" to the area in September and said at the time its ships would regularly go to zones where pirates were active.

Pirates have been causing havoc in one of the world's busiest shipping areas, connecting Europe with the Middle East and Asia. They have taken millions of dollars in ransoms, raised insurance costs and threatened humanitarian supplies.