Oz navy thwarts piracy attack in Gulf of Aden

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Melbourne, Sep 23 (ANI): Australian navy frigate HMAS Toowoomba has successfully thwarted a Somali pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, and boarded the suspect vessel and leading to seizure of cache of military weapons.

Following the Australian policy to warn and disarm, the Navy warned the group of Somalis aboard the vessel and then sent them on their way, after checking that they had sufficient food, water and fuel for the return voyage.

The incident occurred late on Sunday night after Toowoomba, an Anzac class frigate, received an emergency call from the freighter MV BBC Portugal, reporting a boat carrying an armed group was approaching at high speed.

Toowoomba, captained by Commander Ivan Ingham, joined the US-led Combined Task Force combating piracy off the Horn of Africa on September 11 and this was her first mission.

As Toowoomba sailed at top speed towards BBC Portugal, coalition P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and a naval helicopter from another coalition warship spotted the suspect vessel, News.com.au reported.

They confirmed sighting weapons on the vessel and also that the crew had disposed of a number of items overboard, including a ladder.

A search of the vessel revealed a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (RPG), six AK-47 assault rifles, a G-3 assault rifle and a large quantity of ammunition.

"The quick response by HMAS Toowoomba and the coalition helicopter ensured that the incident did not escalate into a direct attack on the merchant vessel," Commander Ingham said.ommander Ingham said questioning of the vessel's crew confirmed they were from nearby Somalia.

However, they denied intending to attack BBC Portugal or engaging in piracy activities. All weapons and munitions were confiscated. (ANI)

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