Russia 'captures 29 Somali pirates'

A Russian naval destroyer seized 29 suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, Russian news agencies have reported, quoting defence ministry officials. Guns and satellite navigation equipment were found during a search on their boat.


AFP -  Russian naval destroyer on Tuesday seized 29 suspected pirates off the coast of Somalia, the defence ministry said, according to Russian news agencies.

"The Admiral Panteleev (destroyer) captured Tuesday at 1412 GMT a boat carrying pirates. In total, 29 people were arrested," the ministry said in a statement.

"Seven Kalachnikov machine-guns, handguns of different calibres, equipment including satellite navigation devices and a large number of empty shells were discovered on board the boat," the ministry said, adding that an investigation has been opened.

These arrests would dwarf the numbers seized in other recent operations by international military forces patrolling the waters off the Gulf of Aden in the last year.

The question of where any eventual trial for the 29 might take place will also come to the fore.

Trials relating to a spiralling upsurge in pirate attacks in the region over the last year are largely being hosted by Kenya, following agreements with the European Union, the United States and Britain.

Eleven Somalis are currently awaiting trial in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa for piracy after their high-seas arrest by the French navy deny.

But a Somali teenager captured by US forces in a high-seas drama is to stand trial in New York on piracy charges -- the first in the US for a century -- that could put him in jail for life.

Despite international naval missions -- including from NATO and the European Union -- ransom-hunting Somalis have tackled ever-bigger and more distant prizes.

Without an effective central government since 1991, Somali pirates are currently holding at least 16 ships and more than 250 seamen to ransom.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, pirate attacks off the lawless Horn of Africa nation increased tenfold in the first three months of this year compared with the same period in 2008, jumping from six to 61.

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