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News number: 8709301297

20:20 | 2008-12-20

Defence

نسخه چاپي ارسال به دوستان

Iran Sends Warships to Fight Somali Pirates

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran on Saturday sent a fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect Islamic Republic's vessels against pirates off the coast of Somalia.



The Iranian fleet arrived in the Gulf of Aden after traveling some 4,000 maritime miles and carried out a naval exercise in preparation for a potential clash with the pirates.

Iran said last month it was negotiating with pirates who seized a ship it had chartered but that it was ready to use force to free the vessel.

The Hong-Kong-registered cargo ship Delight, with a 25-strong crew and 36,000 tons of wheat, was attacked in November in the Gulf of Aden as it headed for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

The attack was the second since August 21, when Iran's Diyanat cargo ship was hijacked after passing the Horn of Africa.

Iranian officials have warned that Iran is mulling over a military option against Somali pirates.

Pirates have carried out more than 100 attacks in the key shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean since the start of this year, while14 vessels and more than 250 crewmembers remain in the hands of pirates.

Last month, they hijacked the Saudi super-tanker Sirius Star, carrying two million barrels of crude oil, and demanded a 25-million dollar ransom for the boat and its crew.

It is one of about 17 ships, including an arms-laden Ukrainian cargo vessel, currently in pirate hands.

Numerous countries, including the United States, Belgium, France, Greece, Liberia and South Korea have all indicated a willingness to send or have already sent warships to the region and China has said it would also do so.

The Iranian ship is to join vessels from the US, Denmark, Russia, Italy and other countries to create a security corridor in the pirate-infested waters.