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27 Oct, 2008 00:37

Russian warship patrols Somali waters

The Russian warship 'Neustrashimy' (Fearless) has arrived in the troubled waters off Somalia and has began conducting anti-piracy patrols in the area. Seven NATO vessels are already monitoring the area which is notorious for hijackings.

The Russian vessel may be used to help intercept a Ukrainian freighter captured a month ago with 20 people onboard.

The pirates originally demanded a ransom of $US 20 million, which was later reduced to $US 8 million. They have also threaten to blow up the ship and its crew if a rescue attempt is made.

The 'Faina' was apparently transporting tanks and weapons to Kenya. But it is thought the cargo was intended for southern Sudan, which is under an international arms embargo.

So far this year, over 55 ships have been targeted by pirates in the area, with some 180 people currently held hostage.