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NATO captures two pirate motherships, free 34

Xinhua | Updated: 2012-01-10 14:09

BRUSSELS - NATO warships have captured two dhows used by Somali pirates as motherships from which to launch attacks off the coasts of Somalia and Oman, rescuing a total of 34 crew members, the military alliance said on Monday.

On Friday, a US warship freed 20 Indian crew members off the southwestern coast of Oman after intercepted an Indian dhow, which was hijacked by nine pirates, NATO said in a statement.

The pirates were put on a fast boat carried by the dhow and given sufficient fuel, provisions and water to return to Somalia, the statement said.

On Saturday, a Danish warship intercepted an Iranian dhow used by pirates as a mothership off the Somali coast, rescuing five Iranian and nine Pakistani crew members and detained 25 suspected pirates.

A decision will be made "in the next few days" on whether to prosecute the suspects or not, the statement said.

"Within the last two days NATO has disrupted two piracy-related dhows with a total of 34 suspected Somali pirates now unable to engage in unlawful acts on the high seas," said Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun, commander of the alliance's counter-piracy operation that has been launched since December 2008.

"NATO's Counter Piracy Task Force has demonstrated its flexibility, reach, resolve and capability to work with other counter piracy agencies to provide security on the sea lanes of this large ocean," he said.


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