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Iran dispatching more warships to counter Somali pirates

Press TV - Six Iranian warships and logistic vessels will join an international armada fighting piracy off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden.

The deployment is in line with international efforts to curb piracy in the pirate-infested waters, which have seen over 220 ships falling victim to hijacking over the past two years.

An Iranian Navy ship

The commander of the Iranian Navy, Real-Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, said on Monday that "six warships and support vessels have been dispatched to the Gulf of Aden region and international waters."

Adm. Sayyari called this long-range mission thousands of kilometers away from base "unprecedented" in Iranian naval history, and saw it as proof of the country's military abilities, ISNA reported.

Another Iranian warship has already joined an international fleet -- consisting of vessels from the US, Denmark, Russia, Italy and other countries -- to create a security corridor in the bandit-ridden waters.

The Islamic Republic's first deployment came after Somali pirates hijacked the Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, Delight, operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) in the Gulf of Aden in November, 2008.

The latest incident involving an Iranian ship came in March when the pirates attacked an Iranian vessel for what they called illegal fishing in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

The Gulf of Aden, which links the Indian Ocean with the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea, is the quickest route for more than 20,000 vessels going from Asia to Europe and the Americas every year.

The pirates in the area usually try to board and take over the ships, while holding their crews hostage for huge ransoms from ship owners.

Although the exact amount of their income is not known, it is estimated that last year the pirates collected tens of millions of dollars in ransom.

It is belied that part of their earning was later invested in better, faster and longer-range boats to attack commercial shipping hundreds of kilometers away from the coast.

A report earlier suggests that Somali pirates receive intelligence about the shipping traffic from associates in london, England, which is the world center for insurance and ship broking.

... Payvand News - 05/25/09 ... --

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