Thursday, 13 November 2008
The British navy killed two Somali pirates after the attempted hijacking of a Danish cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping routes, the defense ministry in London said on Wednesday.
The men were killed when a Royal Navy crew returned fire as they intercepted a boat about 60 miles south of Yemen on Tuesday.
Britain 's HMS Cumberland was in the region as part of a NATO mission to protect shipping after scores of pirate attacks on ships in the key route that links Europe to Asia and the Middle East .
It was joined by a Russian frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) from Russia 's Baltic Sea Fleet, Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo told state channel Vesti-24.
"Boats launched by Cumberland to intercept the dhow (traditional Arab boat) were involved in an exchange of fire," the British defense ministry spokesman said. "Two foreign nationals, believed to be Somali pirates, were shot and killed in self defense."
British sailors found a third man, thought to be a Yemeni national, dead on the vessel. It was not clear whether he had been killed in the shooting or in an earlier incident, the spokesman added.
The Yemeni dhow was towing a smaller boat which the Cumberland 's crew believed had attacked the Danish-registered cargo ship MV Powerful earlier on Tuesday.
Dygalo said a Russian Ka-27 helicopter and a British Lynx helicopter were involved.
"The pirates tried to shoot at the (Danish) vessel with automatic weapons and made several attempts to seize it," he added. "But thanks to the joint efforts of the Russian and British warships the pirates' actions were disrupted."
He said the Russian frigate was now escorting several foreign merchant ships in the area.
Pirates have been causing havoc in the Gulf of Aden , taking millions of dollars in ransoms, raising insurance costs and threatening humanitarian supplies.
Diplomatic relations between Britain and Russia have been strained following the murder of Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko who was killed with a radioactive substance in London two years ago.
Moscow sent the Neustrashimy to the area in September and said at the time its ships would regularly go to zones where pirates were active.
Some observers say the Kremlin is increasingly using the Russian navy to project its renewed power. (Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov in Moscow ; Editing by Matthew Jones)