Page last updated at 11:51 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 12:51 UK

French deliver 11 piracy suspects

French warship docks in Mombasa
Two open boats were strapped to the decks of the Nivose

A French naval frigate has docked in the Kenyan port of Mombasa carrying 11 Somalis accused of piracy.

French commandos captured the men last week after an attempt to hijack a Liberian tanker.

The Somalis will be handed over to Kenyan authorities for prosecution under a special agreement with the EU.

This year Somali-based pirates have attacked more than 80 ships and hijacked at least 20 - collecting millions of dollars in ransoms.

Forces from the French warship Nivose captured the suspects in an alleged attempt to hijack the cargo ship Safmarine Asia, 550 miles (900 km) east of Mombasa.

Court appearance

Anti Lehmus Jarvi, an EU legal adviser, said he had spoken to the Kenyan prosecutor and the suspects will be taken to court and charged.

Other piracy suspects who have allegedly attacked French citizens have been taken for trial to France.

The Nivose, which carries a helicopter, is serving in the international fleet trying to protect the gulf's trade route.

The BBC's Peter Greste saw the Nivose dock in Mombasa and said two flimsy open speedboats strapped to its decks were taken away, along with grappling hooks and machine guns.

The accused men are expected to appear in court on Wednesday, our correspondent says.

Somalia has been without a stable government since 1991, allowing piracy to flourish.

Pirate attacks at sea worldwide nearly doubled in the first three months of 2009, according to an international maritime watchdog report on Tuesday.

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