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Iran saves ship from Somali pirates

9 May 2010 8:37

The Iranian navy has stopped ransom-hunting pirates off the volatile coast of Somalia from hijacking a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

Armed with guns and artillery, the Somali buccaneers attempted to take over an Iranian commercial vessel on Friday, but were immediately restrained by Iranian naval ships patrolling the area at the time.

Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told Mehr news agency on Saturday that the commercial vessel is being escorted to the country’s southern waters in the Sea of Oman.

Referring to the eight-day war games, which kicked off in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman on Wednesday, Sayyari said one of the main purposes of the maneuvers was to hone the country’s naval deterrence skills and preserve shipping security in pirate-infested waters.

The Velayat-89 military maneuver covers some 250,000 square kilometers, spanning from the Strait of Hormuz to the northern Indian Ocean.

In recent years, Somali sea gangs have managed to bag millions of dollars in ransoms by prowling the Gulf of Aden, which is an important energy corridor, particularly for Persian Gulf oil heading west through the Suez Canal

According to Ecoterra International, an environmentalist NGO monitoring maritime activity in the region, more than 25 ships are currently being held by the pirates.

This comes as more than 400 seamen are held hostage, the highest number since Somali piracy surged in 2007.

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