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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Anti-pirates success story: Saudis chase off attackers of cargo ship

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has reported its first naval operation against pirates in the Gulf of Aden.   

The Royal Saudi Navy said its French-origin frigate blocked unidentified pirates from intercepting a Turkish cargo ship near the Gulf of Aden. The navy said the Al Riyad frigate had responded to a distress call from Turkey's Yasa Seyhan, attacked by three small vessels on Feb. 16.

"The pirates fled after the arrival of the frigate," the navy said.

This marked the first Saudi navy success since the Gulf Arab kingdom joined the Western anti-piracy mission in January 2009. Al Riyad has been stationed in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international task force.

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"The warship Al Riyad, which is in the Gulf of Aden and is part of a multi-national force to fight piracy, provided protection to the Turkish merchant ship," the official Saudi Press Agency said.

In 2008, more than 150 suspected pirates, most of them from nearby Somalia, were captured by Western-led naval patrols in the Gulf of Aden. The task force has included warships from Denmark, India, Russia and the United States.

"Such a rescue mission on the part of the Royal Saudi Navy deserves all appreciation," Turkish ambassador to Riyad, Naci Koru, said.

For its part, Turkey has sent a navy frigate to join the anti-piracy mission. Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency said the Turkish Navy's TCG Giresun, a guided-missile frigate that contains two helicopters and an underwater assault team, was expected to begin operations on Feb. 25.

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