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Russian destroyer escorts five ships to deter Somali pirates


MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Admiral Vinogradov destroyer is escorting five foreign vessels through the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden, Navy Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said on Thursday.

The Admiral Vinogradov is operating within the framework of an EU anti-piracy operation, dubbed Atalanta, to protect shipping lanes off the Horn of Africa against Somali pirates.

Its charges are a Liberian vessel, a Caiman tanker, Singaporean tanker, a Lithuanian vessel and a Russian ship.

The destroyer took over escort duties as planned earlier this month from the Neustrashimy frigate, which is returning to its base in Kaliningrad having escorted over 20 convoys since it was deployed to the region in October 2008.

Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off East Africa, where over 120 ships were attacked last year, with around 35 vessels, including 600 crew members, seized. Somalia has been without a functioning government since 1991.

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