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US Navy hands over pirates to Kenya

THE US Navy handed over seven suspected Somalian pirates to Kenya for prosecution late last week.

The move was the first use of a new bilateral agreement between Washington and Nairobi in a show of force to deter further pirate activity off the Horn of Africa. The US Navy said the seven suspects were captured by the US cruiser Vella Gulf on February 11, after a thwarted attempt to board a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel. US Ambassador Stephen Mull told the US Congress that the presence of the US Navy in the Gulf of Aden had led to a slump in successful pirate attacks. He said co-ordinated diplomatic and military efforts also played an important role and wanted other governments to sign up to prosecute captured pirates. Mr Mull’s request came as 28 countries affected by recent attacks met last Thursday in Copenhagen to discuss pirate prosecutions. The US Navy vice-admiral William Gortney said naval forces in the Gulf of Aden encountered 250 pirates, of which 121 were disarmed and released, 117 were disarmed and turned over for prosecution, and nine are pending final disposition. He said 28 pirate skiffs were seized or destroyed and box-loads of weapons, including 79 rocket-propelled grenades were confiscated. “All of the efforts to counter pirate attacks thus far have resulted in a drop in successful attacks from a high of 64% in October to 17% in February,” the US State Department said. Six ships and 123 seafarers were being held hostage at the end of last week.





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