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Russian destroyer prevents Somali pirate attack on cargo vessel


VLADIVOSTOK, May 25 (RIA Novosti) - A destroyer from Russia's Pacific Fleet, which was escorting six merchant vessels through the Gulf of Aden, fired warning shots at Somali pirates as they tried to seize a ship, a Navy spokesman said on Monday.

The Eide Trader, sailing under the Marshall Islands flag, was part of the convoy being escorted by the Admiral Panteleyev on Saturday when two speedboats closed in on the slow-moving ship in an attempt to hijack it. The Russian destroyer fired warning shots at the pirates who immediately backed off.

"Six merchant ships from different countries were under the Admiral Panteleyev's protection as part of an international convoy through a safe region in the Gulf of Aden. The Pacific Fleet agreed to escort the Eide Trader freighter... despite its slow speed," the Navy spokesman said.

All the ships made it safely through the pirate infested waters and the Admiral Panteleyev is heading for Bahrain to take on supplies before returning to its duties in the Gulf of Aden.

The Admiral Panteleyev is an Udaloy-class missile destroyer armed with anti-ship missiles, 30-mm and 100-mm guns, and two Ka-27 Helix helicopters. The destroyer seized in April a boat carrying 29 suspected pirates, believed to have been involved in the unsuccessfully attack on a Russian-crewed oil tanker as it passed through the Gulf of Aden en route to Singapore. Around 20 warships from the navies of at least a dozen countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off Somalia. According to the United Nations, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in combined ransom payouts of around $150 million.

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