Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 16:28 UK

Somalia frees hijacked cargo ship

Peter Greste
BBC News, Nairobi

File photo of assailants who attacked a cruise ship off the coast of Somalia in 2005
The Somali coast is the most dangerous in the world for piracy

Security forces in northern Somalia have raided and freed an Indian ship hijacked by pirates, capturing four of the hijackers in a gun battle.

Pirates had boarded the ship sailing up the Somali coast from Asia, despite the presence of a flotilla of warships sent to the region to clamp down on piracy.

The crew of 13 were freed unharmed from the vessel.

Dozens of ships have been seized this year in the busy shipping lanes along the Gulf of Aden and close to Somalia.

The authorities in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland in northern Somalia said their forces raided the Indian ship soon after pirates attacked over the weekend.

They said they had captured four of the hijackers in a shootout, while four more escaped.

The ship was the 30th to be taken by pirates this year - most were freed after their owners paid hefty ransoms but ten are still being held, most notably the MV Faina - a Ukrainian ship loaded with 33 tanks and ammunition headed for Kenya.

A Russian guided missile frigate is steaming through the Suez Canal to join an international flotilla of warships that have surrounded the Faina to stop the pirates from unloading its cargo.

Nato has sent ships to support US navy vessels already there, while India and several European countries have said they will also mount anti-piracy patrols.

The Somali coast is still the most dangerous in the world for piracy, but international patience seems at its limit.

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