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Russia, France coordinate anti-piracy efforts off Somali coast

Russia, France coordinate anti-piracy efforts off Somali coast 19.11.2008 Source: en.rian.ru

The Russian and French navies are coordinating efforts to fight piracy off the Somali coast, Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo, an aide to the Russian navy commander, said Wednesday.

Russia's Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate entered waters off the Somali coast in late October, to help secure shipping routes in the region.

Dygalo said Russia's Captain 1st Rank Oleg Gurinov met with Rear Admiral Gerard Valin, Commander of the French Joint Forces in the Indian Ocean, on board the Neustrashimy earlier in the day.

Somali pirates have attacked over 60 ships so far this year, resulting in the seizure of 33 vessels and capture of 200 sailors for ransom purposes. The East African nation has been without a functioning government since 1991 and has no navy to police its coastline.

NATO and the EU have recently announced plans to increase their naval presence in the Gulf of Aden. About 20,000 vessels pass through the region annually.

In early June, the UN Security Council passed a resolution permitting countries to enter Somalia's territorial waters to combat "acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea."

International concern over shipping safety in the region has risen since a huge tanker carrying up to 2 million barrels of Saudi oil was seized on Saturday. Late on Tuesday, an Indian warship opened fire on a pirate vessel, causing it to burst into flames and sink.

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