Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Saturday, 13 December 2008

Indian navy 'captures 23 pirates'

The Indian navy released a photo of weapons it said it seized from pirates it arrested in the Gulf of Aden
The Indian navy said it seized weapons from the arrested pirates.

The Indian navy says it has arrested 23 Somali and Yemeni pirates who tried to storm a ship in the Gulf of Aden.

A navy spokesman said it had responded to a mayday call from MV Gibe, flying under the Ethiopian flag.

Several countries have warships patrolling the gulf amid growing international concern about piracy.

Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said better intelligence was needed for a land attack on pirate bases to be considered.

Mr Gates, speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, also called for shipping companies to do more to protect their vessels travelling through the Arabian Sean and Indian Ocean.

Arms cache

The Indian government said in a statement that the captured pirates had a cache of arms and equipment, including seven AK-47 assault rifles, three machine guns, and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

The pirates would be handed over to the appropriate authorities, the statement added.

Last month, India's navy said it had sunk a pirate "mother vessel" off Somalia.

But it later emerged that the vessel was actually a Thai fishing trawler that had been seized by pirates off Yemen.

Better intelligence

Mr Gates told the security conference: "The need for increased maritime security and potentially new and better means of co-operation has been highlighted by the recent high-profile acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates
Robert Gates called for companies to protect their ships better
"As with terrorism, piracy is a problem that has serious international implications and should be of particular concern to any nation that depends on the seas for commerce."

Mr Gates said most ships could outrun the pirates and they should take more preventative measures, like pulling up their ladders when at sea and perhaps placing armed guards on board.

When asked by the BBC if the US intended to attack the pirates' land bases, Mr Gates replied that the US and its allies would first need to acquire better intelligence on who is behind the ongoing attacks on shipping.

He said he believed that just two or three Somali clans were responsible and that the individuals involved needed to be targeted accurately to avoid killing innocent civilians.

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