Russia calls for international fight against pirates

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Moscow, May 27 (UNI) Russia today urged international navies to launch joint operations against pirates who have recently stepped up attacks on ships off Africa's coasts.

''Coordinating operations by naval forces in the zones of pirate attacks could help partly resolve the problem,'' the spokesman for the Russian Navy Captain Igor Dygalo told reporters.

Pirate attacks have risen across the world, with most attacks occurring along the Somali coast, where more than 25 ships were seized last year.

The call comes as a Dutch cargo ship with a crew of nine, including four Russians, was reported as being seized by pirates off the Somali coast yesterday.

The vessel left the Kenyan port of Mombasa on May 19 en route to Romania's port of Constanta.

Mr Dygalo said Russia has actively participated in international exercises during which officers are trained how to cope with ''maritime pirates''.

He added the Russian Navy last year boosted its permanent presence in international waters, stressing that the increased naval patrols could protect shipping and cut the number of attacks on civilian vessels.

Another Danish-owned vessel, the Svitzer Korsakov, with four Russian crew members, a British captain, and an Irish engineer on board, was seized by Somali pirates on February 1 and held for more than six weeks before being released.

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